Tuesday, May 19, 2009

‘Operation Panty’ makes delivery to immigrant women

By Dianne Mathiowetz
Gadsden, Ala.

Published May 17, 2009 9:37 PM

image On May 9, three members of the Georgia Detention Watch made a second solidarity trip to the Etowah Detention Center in Gadsden, Ala., to deliver hundreds of pairs of cotton underwear to women immigrant detainees.

Originally planned as a Mothers’ Day delegation with access to the unit of the jail where around 150 women are held for unspecified periods of time pending deportation, the musical program, extended visiting time and communal dinner were all cancelled because of H1N1 (swine flu) precautions advised by the Center for Disease Control.

Nevertheless, immigrant rights activists were not deterred from bringing personal hygiene items as a gesture of support and expression of opposition to the indignities and injustice of the detainees’ incarceration.

“Operation Panty” initiator, America Gruner, said, “We were shocked to learn that the women held at Etowah were wearing orange-mesh men’s boxers that are not only uncomfortable, but totally unsuitable to preserving their sanitary needs during their monthly periods. Through donations of many people, we were able to bring hundreds of pairs of cotton underwear today.”

The briefs had handwritten notes attached, expressing Mother's Day greetings for the reunification of immigrant families. Georgia Detention Watch made its first solidarity visit for International Women’s Day this past March.

Gruner continued, “Although we are very disappointed not to be able to personally honor the mothers held at Etowah, so cruelly separated from their children, we will hopefully be able to reschedule another visit soon.” For more information, go to www.gadetentionwatch.org

The writer was a member of the three-person delegation.

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