Belly of the Beast (2020)

  • Documentary
  • 1h 22m

When a courageous young woman and a radical lawyer discover a pattern of illegal involuntary sterilizations in California’s women’s prison system, they take to the courtroom to wage a near-impossible battle against the Department of Corrections. With a growing team of investigators inside prison working with colleagues on the outside, they uncover a series of statewide crimes - from dangerously inadequate health care to sexual assault to coercive sterilizations - primarily targeting women of color. But no one believes them. This shocking legal drama captured over seven years features extraordinary access and intimate accounts from currently and formerly incarcerated women, demanding our attention to a shameful and ongoing legacy of eugenics and reproductive injustice in the United States.

“I have the power to change lives with the awareness of what happened to me.” - Kelli Dillon, Belly of the Beast

Join us for a digital film festival screening + live Q&A. Watch the film at your own pace, or join us for a shared viewing experience.
Thursday, June 11
6:30 PM EDT – Start watching the film
7:55 PM EDT – 5 min break – get your questions ready and re-fill your beverage!
8:00 PM EDT – Join us for a live Q&A with filmmaker Erika Cohn, Producer Angela Tucker, HRW’s Women’s Rights Acting Co-Director Amanda Klasing & special guests. Register here
In a different region? Click here to translate timing to your timezone.


Erika Cohn


Angela Tucker


Christen Marquez


Nicole Docta



Bonus Content

5 mins
Black Women are Dying From Cervical Cancer in Alabama

The Federal and many state and local governments are not doing enough to prevent cervical cancer deaths, which are largely preventable. Approximately 4,200 women a year die in the United States from cervical cancer, including disproportionately high numbers of Black women.

State and federal policies contribute to a treacherous reproductive health environment in Alabama, where women are dying from cervical cancer at rates higher than in any other US state. The report presents the experiences of women mostly from the Alabama Black Belt, a largely rural region of Alabama that is primarily African American and has high rates of poverty and poor physical health. Human Rights Watch found that governments are not doing enough to facilitate access to reproductive health care services and provide information to prevent these deaths.

Read the full report here, and download Belly of the Beast to access this video content..

5 mins
Japan: Compelled Sterilization of Transgender People

Japan’s government should stop forcing transgender people to be surgically sterilized if they want legal recognition of their gender identity. Requiring a medical intervention as a condition of having their gender identity legally recognized violates Japan’s human rights obligations and runs counter to international medical standards. Japan’s Gender Identity Disorder Special Cases (GID) Act harms transgender people who want to be legally recognized but cannot or do not want to undergo irreversible medical procedures like sterilization.

Read the full report here, and download Belly of the Beast to access this video content.

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