2020-09-22 13:30:55

"Belly of the Beast": Survivors of Forced Sterilizations in California's Prisons Fight for Justice

Revelations about forced hysterectomies at an ICE facility in Georgia have forced a reckoning with the long history of sterilizations in the U.S. — particularly of Black, Brown, poor and disabled people — and the way this procedure has continued in jails and prisons to the present day.

Democracy Now! speaks with Kelli Dillon, who was sterilized at the Central California Women's Facility in Chowchilla in 2001 and who is featured in the documentary "Belly of the Beast," which tells the stories of women subjected to unwanted sterilization behind bars in California.

She says incarcerated women are "punished" for simply requesting medical records. "If we begin to press … we are reprimanded and sometimes put in lockdown," says Dillon, who in 2006 became the first survivor of sterilization abuse to sue the California Department of Corrections for damages.

Between 2006 and 2010, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation sterilized nearly 150 women without required state approval. "Forced sterilization is genocide," notes filmmaker Erika Cohn, who directed Belly of the Beast and spent nearly a decade making it.

The film opens in theaters on October 16 and will premiere on PBS's "Independent Lens" on November 23.

Democracy Now! produces a daily, global, independent news hour hosted by award-winning journalists Amy Goodman and Juan González. 

Our reporting includes breaking daily news headlines and in-depth interviews with people on the front lines of the world’s most pressing issues. 

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Amy Goodman Belly of the Beast Democracy Now! Erika Cohn Free Speech TV Georgia ICE Kelli Dillon Sterilizations United States

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