An Israeli government minister has admitted the practice of covertly injecting female Ethiopian immigrants with a birth control drug known as Depo-Provera.
The issue was first brought to light almost five years ago. However, there had been no official acknowledgement until a letter in response to the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, written by the Director General of the Ministry of Health, Professor Ron Gamzu, was published yesterday.
Professor Ron Gamzu's letter instructed four organisations dealing with the health of Ethiopian immigrants to cease administering Depo-Provera immediately.
It added that gynaecologists from the organisations sanctioned by the Health Ministry and currently treating women of Ethiopian origin, should not renew prescriptions for the drug if there was a possibility that the women did not understand "the ramifications of the treatment," and to procure translators from now on if needed.
The issue came to light again after a television investigation broadcast testimony from 35 Ethiopian immigrants to Israel, who said that they had been forced to receive the injection while waiting in transit camps.
The birth rate among Israel's Ethiopian community has declined by 50 percent over the past ten years.