Girls Forced To Hysterectomy At Palestinian Hospitals

A Palestinian researcher at Birzeit University uncovered a scandal and crime against humanity in which Palestinian families in the West Bank force their daughters to undergo “uterine surgery” (hysterectomy). The girls are mostly said to have mental disabilities, the hospitals are administrated by the Palestinian National Authority (“PNA”). The surgeries are performed after these families are talked by doctors and religious authorities into fearing that their daughters can be raped, become pregnant or be unable to care about themselves during the period due to their (supposed) mental disability.

A Palestinian psychologist revealed that there currently are 50 cases of girls in the West Bank which are still on the waiting list for these operations for their daughters.

In a desperate attempt from the Islamic religious authority, which works under the power of PA, the Mufti of Jerusalem and the Holy Palestinian Lands, who before had issued a religious edict (“fatwa”) allowing Palestinian families to have hysterectomy performed on their daughters (a crime against humanity), criticized these same Palestinian families saying that they should not make use that “old” religious edict which supposedly was issued by the Islamic authority for one specific case, allowing one family to allow a hysterectomy to be performed on their daughter. The Mufti denied releasing a fatwa which permits any family to conduct such an operation!

Sheikh Mohammed Hussein said “there was no edict issued which legitimizes and permits in general the eradication of the wombs of girls with disabilities, adding that the fatwa referenced was a one-time permit which had been exploited by some parents, indicating that it may not be a mainstream opinion at all, and that the fatwa was in reaction to a necessity in order to avoid a health risk to which the girl in question may have been exposed to.

The study which exposed the scandal was prepared by University student Rima Al Khuffash at Birzeit University to obtain a bachelor’s degree in psychology in last June 2011. The study documented 7 surgical operations to remove the womb (hysterectomy) of women carried out at hospitals in the West Bank. The operations were deleted from the hospital registries. The study also mentioned that the Palestinian Ministry of Health has issued a resolution which forbids such operations. However, researcher Rima Khuffash said that some religious advisers (Sheikhs) and some doctors are encouraging Palestinian families to have their daughters undergo “eradication surgery of the womb” (hysterectomy), pointing to the concentration of these surgeries in the north and central West Bank. This means that most such operations take place in Nablus, Jenin, Qalqilya in the north, and in Ramallah and its Middle district.

For his part, said Dr. Mohammed Breget, specialist in clinical psychology: “In a workshop supervised by the Al-Quds Open University, it was pointed out that there are 50 Palestinian families living in the West Bank who are waiting to conduct the hysterectomy of the girls and women with disabilities”. Dr. Breget described the hysterectomy operation as a crime against humanity, accusing some of the doctors and religious clergy, saying that they are responsible for this criminal act by encouraging the families to do these operations.

Dr. Breget told a story of a girl from Nablus in the northern West Bank who underwent hysterectomy, pointing out that the girl cried and begged her mother at the moment of entering the operating room not to do it to her. The doctor confirmed, adding: “These operations are done in government hospitals”, he wondered, saying: “who is responsible for that?”.

In the same context, the Undersecretary of the Ministry of Health, Dr. Anan Al Masri, covered up the crimes since the hysterectomy operation are made at the hospitals of the government and the medical teams involved in the crimes are covered by his ministry. Mr. Al Masri denied that hysterectomies are done at PNA hospitals, he said that “the Ministry of Health did not approve the conduct of these operations”, pointing out that the Ministry “does not conduct these surgeries in its hospitals, whether public or private, and that the Ministry will prosecute any doctor who has conducted these operations because this work is far from humanity and the laws”.

According to our sources, there is a group of doctors working at the PA hospitals who are bound together by private interests for a net of (“Fat Cats”), several staff of the Palestinian National Authority who take money for covering these crimes. The doctors are conducting these and other operations for a high price, which goes directly into the pockets of these “fat cats”. All these operations are deleted from the hospital computers. Some of the doctor makes the operations in their own clinic, at home, in complete disregard for their duty as doctors and the dignity of the patients.

In connection with the hysterectomies it must be noted that the issues of sexual abuse and incest are widespread in the Palestinian territories and within families, schools, and institution in the cities, villages and the government institutions. In such a morass, forced hysterectomies of young girls and women who are accused of having “mental problems” are more than convenient to avoid unwanted pregnancies and the shame they would bring. All these crimes are banned from public discussion and publication in the media. In all cases, these crimes are treated in a way that will cover up the perpetrators, protecting and helping them to continue perpetrating more crimes, and by punishing the victims (women, minors, girls) or killing them in so-called “honor” killings, and forcing disabled or mentally ill (real or adduced) girls to undergo hysterectomy operations. This has the added “benefit” of income for the perpetrators and the facilitators, who wear expensive suites and ties and work at PA institutions

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