Just days after a nurse at an ICE detention centre came forward with allegations of mass hysterectomies performed on immigrants detained at the Irwin County Detention Center (ICDC) in Georgia, new details have emerged about the whistleblower. Several people who were detained at Irwin while Dawn Wooten, the whistleblower, was employed there as a licensed practical nurse have come forward with allegations that she was complicit in the abuses they experienced at the detention centre.
A spokesperson for an organisation that represents migrants held at the detention centre told Prism that multiple clients remembered Wooten making “jokes at their expense.” At least one other person said Wooten knew what the facility was doing to migrant women and did nothing to stop it. She added that Wooten made fun of the people detained at Irwin.
These allegations were brought to light after Wooten came forward on Monday with her own allegations of medical malpractices against migrants detained at ICDC, claiming that the facility has ignored COVID-19 safety protocols and is performing mass hysterectomies on people detained there. A failure to test symptomatic detained immigrants, and to quarantine those who had been in close contact with confirmed or suspected COVID cases, were among the complaints.
In an official complaint, Wooten went on to state that ICDC was performing hysterectomies on people without their informed consent, referring to the doctor who allegedly performed them, a Georgia gynaecologist, Dr Mahendra Amin, as the “uterus collector.”
“For years, advocates in Georgia have raised red flags about the human rights violations occurring inside the Irwin County Detention Center,” Project South Staff Attorney Priyanka Bhatt, said in an emailed press statement. “Ms. Wooten’s whistleblowing disclosures confirm what detained immigrants have been reporting for years: gross disregard for health and safety standards, lack of medical care, and unsanitary living conditions at Irwin.”
Immigrants who were detained at the facility during the time Wooten worked there said the nurse participated in their “mistreatment and trauma.” In response to the allegations, Dana Gold, Wooten’s legal representative at the Government Accountability Project, told Prism, “Dawn witnessed systemic abuses at ICDC. When she raised concerns about the operating procedures to her superiors, they demoted her.” Gold continued, “She came forward to expose and validate grave mistreatment of detained immigrants at Irwin because she believes in the need for systematic change and accountability from the top down.”
People are now demanding further answers and justice for detained migrants facing gross medical malpractice. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is asking for the allegations to be investigated by the Department of Homeland Security Inspector General.