Saturday, June 8, 2013
Israel's 120,000 Ethiopian residents face major social and economic challenges
Almost half of Ethiopian-Israeli women are employed as unskilled workers, in stark contrast to insignificant percentages from the general Jewish population. Among all the ethnic groups in Israel - including Muslim Arabs - employers are least likely to hire Ethiopians, found a recent survey by the Israeli Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry. In December 2012, a television exposé by Israeli journalist Gal Gabbay featured numerous Ethiopian-Israelis testifying that they were coerced into taking birth control during their immigration. The Association of Civil Rights in Israel, based in Tel Aviv, says that its research found evidence of a nationwide policy of monitoring fertility in the Ethiopian community and coercing women to take birth control injections called Depo-Provera. Government investigations have yet to yield any conclusive results. But since January, the Israeli Health Ministry has ordered doctors across the country to review how they prescribe birth control and not to renew Depo-Provera prescriptions unless they are sure the patient thoroughly understands the ramifications. An estimated 65% of Ethiopian-Israeli children live in poverty, according to recent reports by the State Comptroller's Office, the official watchdog agency. Ethiopian-Israeli students have higher dropout rates and lower enrollment rates than their peers.