Last year, we wrote about Controversial clinical trials that used black people as guinea pigs and discussed Dr James Marion Sims who established the first women’s hospital in New York City in 1855 and is endeared by some as the father of gynecology.
Face2FaceAfrica Contributor Fredrick Ngugi explained the controversy around Dr Sims as follows:
In his quest for an effective treatment for vesicovaginal fistula, a serious vaginal complication that causes great pain, a controversial American physician by the name of James Marion Sims resorted to using enslaved black women for his experiments.
It is alleged that Dr Sims performed surgeries on his subjects without anesthesia. He argued that the operations were not painful enough to warrant any form of anesthesia. Sims further reasoned that “black people did not feel as much pain as white people”, and therefore didn‘t require anesthesia during surgery. Many women died at the hands of the man who some people now regard as “the father of modern gynecology”.
On Saturday last week, a group of female protesters staged a peaceful protest at Central Park, New York demanding the removal of Dr Sims’ statue from the park, arguing that it is a symbol of oppression.
Today, Dr J. Marion Sims’ statue will be removed from Central Park, its current location in East Harlem, and moved to his grave site in Brooklyn, according to the New York Daily News.
An 18-member committee set up by NYC Mayor Bill DeBlasio to review 800 potential ‘symbols of hate’ across the city came to the decision, voting that the statue be replaced by an informational plaque citing all the damage Sims did to black women during his practice.
The East Harlem Preservation organization has been fighting to remove Sims’ statue since 2010. A statue in Sims’ hometown, South Carolina, caused similar outrage, when the city’s first African-American mayor, Steve Benjamin, said the statue is offensive, arguing that, “the most offensive statue wasn’t a soldier, it’s J. Marion Sims, who’s considered the father of modern gynecology who tortured slave women and children for years as he developed his treatments for gynecology”.
Check out some Twitter reactions to NYC decision below:
To some people James Marion Sims is considered “the father of modern gynecology”. But to other people he is considered “the devil” due to him experimenting on enslaved Black women without anesthesia.
— Bella Goth (@HoodSocialist) February 13, 2018
Kudos to Black Youth 100 & others who petitioned for the removal of the statue of butcher J. Marion Sims!