General News

Uproar after Israel jails heavily pregnant Ghanaian worker

Date: Jan 22, 2020

The Israel Prison Service has imprisoned a heavily pregnant Ghanaian worker and is keeping her in isolation, Israeli media reported earlier this week.

Jossephine Kwabiwaa, 32, was placed in isolation four months ago because she refused to be tested for tuberculosis. Kwabiwaa said she was afraid of taking the tests, which include X-rays, out of concern that radiation could affect her pregnancy, the Afro-Palestine Newswire Service reported.

Physicians for Human Rights Israel (PHRI) is demanding that Kwabiwaa be moved from isolation so she can receive proper medical care. “For four months, no one on the Israel Prison Service’s medical staff who met Jossephine alerted anyone about the harm that could be caused to her as a result of her isolation or demand that it end,” Anat Lidvin, director of its PHRI's Department for Prisoners, told Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

“This case shows how the Israel Prison Service violates the rights of prisoners and endangers their health and lives. Government authorities must work to transfer the responsibility of medical care for prisoners from the Israel Prison Service to a body that knows medicine and that can provide treatment in line with accepted standards in the public health system in Israel, while maintaining the rules of ethical medicine."

Reports say Kwabiwaa has been forced to pay for medical examinations and pregnancy supplements, like folic acid and iron. The cost of some of her pregnancy checks have been taken out of funds she was supposed to use to purchase food items at the prison canteen. 

Kwabiwaa’s treatment has sparked outrage in Ghana. “Israel’s treatment of Jossephine Kwabiwaa is racist and inhumane. Israel says it cares for Africa, but its long history of racism against Africans tells a very different story,” Ghanaian legislator, Ras Mubarak, said in an interview with the Afro-Palestine Newswire Service. Mubarak will be following up on the case with the relevant authorities.

The World Medical Association and the United Nation have condemned placing pregnant women in isolation as this could severely hurt their physical and mental health and potentially harm the foetus.

Israel, however, has a long history of detaining pregnant women, particularly Palestinians, and holding them in isolation.

Palestinian prisoner support group, Addameer, says Israel does not give pregnant prisoners preferential treatment in terms of diet, living space or hospital transfers. During the transfers the women’s hands and feet are shackled with metal chains to their beds until they enter the delivery room. They are again shackled immediately after giving birth.

In 1987, in one of the most horrific cases documented, Naila Ayesh was hooded and beaten during interrogation, deprived of sleep and left outdoors in winter. She miscarried and was denied medical treatment.



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