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25/3/2009 (Historical Archive)

Human Rights Watch report: women’s struggles to obtain health care in US Immigration Detention

Human rights researchers say that, “Under international standards, detainees are entitled to the same level of medical care as individuals in the community at large.

However, many immigrant women in detention facilities by the US Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) are not receiving a medical care anywhere close to that of the rest of the community.

How can this have gone significantly unnoticed? The answer is that since these women are part of what is growing to be the fastest form of incarceration in the United States, they are well hidden from public scrutiny and therefore compassionate action.

The raw statistics given to us by Human Rights Watch tell us that the female percentage of the immigration detention population amounts to roughly 30,000 women on every giving day. This means 30,000 women for whom pap smears, mammograms, and other routine checks for cancer, or even follow-ups on existing signs of cancer go ignored.

If even simple requests for necessities such as sanitary pads or breast pumps were often put off, then special care such as counseling services for victims of sexual violence was unheard of. There were even a few startling accounts of the shackling of pregnant detainees.

The recommendations from our sources at Human Rights Watch were as follows:

  1. The adoption of standards regarding women’s health and reproductive health services

  2. The prohibition shackling pregnant women as well as an end to the detention of pregnant, nursing or abused women in these facilities.

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