California has always been at the forefront of changing cultural and social issues. During the 1970s, the idea of women tricked into sterilization was an indirect form of eugenics. The County of Los Angeles was sued and the people of California vowed for it to never happen again.
However, thirty years late, it did happen again—just not in the same form.
In Erika Cohn’s documentary Belly of the Beast, the film followed a young woman who was involuntarily sterilized in California’s prison and an ambitious human rights lawyer seeking justice for all women. The fascinating documentary definitely opens the eyes of audiences to the treatment of jail mates as second-class citizens and tricked into sterilizations.
Here’s the official synopsis:
On the heels of recent headlines about unneeded hysterectomies being performed on ICE detainees in Georgia, Belly of the Beast sheds new light on the scope and far-ranging nature of these human rights violations within the criminal justice system. The film follows the journey of Kelli Dillon, a young woman who was involuntarily sterilized while incarcerated at the Central California Women’s Facility, as she teams up with Cynthia Chandler, a human rights lawyer, to fight for reproductive justice. Together they uncover a wide range of crimes occurring within the facility—largely perpetrated against the facility’s Black and Latinx populations.
LRM Online’s Gig Patta sat down to discuss the documentary and reproductive issues with director Erika Cohn, victim Kelli Dillon, and human rights attorney Cynthia Chandler.
Belly of the Beast documentary airs as part of Independent Lens later tonight at 10 p.m. ET (check local listings) on PBS and the PBS video app.
Watch the exclusive interview below. Let us know what you think.
Source: LRM Online Exclusive, PBS