After weeks of controversy and an admittance by Israel that they were forcing, without women’s knowledge, Ethiopians to take contraceptives, the country’s health ministry announced it would establish a panel to look into the allegations that Ethiopian-Israeli women had been given contraceptive shots.
Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman will name the team, the Israeli daily Haaretz reported on Thursday, and it will include top health ministry officials, a representative of the Ethiopian community and an independent doctor.
The investigation will look at whether the shots were given without the women’s knowledge or consent and without fully informing them of the side effects, and if they were used to reduce the number of births in the Ethiopian immigrant community.
Depo-Provera is a particularly preventative measure. A woman must only receive an injection once every three months, or four times a year, and the contraceptive works instantaneously. Several studies have shown that first year fail rate, or percentage of women who were impregnated during use of Depo-Provera, was between zero and 0.3 percent.
General Prof. Ron Gamzu, the director of the Ministry of Health, has instructed gynecologists to stop administering the contraceptive.
Israeli citizens of Ethiopian origins have faced great difficulty in Israeli society.
There was recently and anti-African immigration movement in Israel and Ethiopian Jews are often denied work and housing based on their ancestry.
The announcement comes after a major step forward for Ethiopians in Israel, as the first female Ethiopian member of the Knesset was elected with the centrist Yesh Atid party.
Pnina Tamano-Shata is a former television broadcaster as is the head of her party, Yair Lapid. Being from a family of low socioeconomic standing, Tamano-Shata maintains that Israel needs “to exhibit zero tolerance to discriminatory institutions, regardless of whether they discriminate against Ethiopians, Arabs, or anyone else.”
She further expressed her desire to support legislation that promotes equality and affordable housing, reports Ynet news.
** Creede Newton contributed to this report.