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Germanna, UMW, Community Foundation host virtual documentary “Belly of the Beast” tonight

When Kelli Dillon was a 24-year-old inmate at a California women’s prison in 2008, she began to experience abdominal pain. A doctor at the correctional facility told her he suspected cancer and that he needed to perform exploratory surgery. He found no cancer, but sterilized her without her consent or knowledge.

Dillon’s story is the focus of a new documentary about the unconscionable practice of coerced sterilization of women—mostly Black and Latina—in California’s prisons and the history of eugenics in the United States.

“Belly of the Beast” will be presented online at 6 p.m. this Monday, March 29 by the Women and Girls Fund of The Community Foundation, Germanna Community College and the UMW Women and Gender Study Program.

Believing in eugenics, California state legislators passed a law in 1909 authorizing involuntary sterilization. By the time the program ended 70 years later, California had sterilized 20,000 people—mostly women and girls–in state institutions who were loosely classified as having disabilities or deemed “unfit for reproduction.”

“#BellyoftheBeast does not reach for happy endings and is most absorbing in its thesis, which makes the stakes of this battle against human rights violations loud and clear.” —NYT review



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