Greenland women ask Denmark for compensation over involuntary birth control

Last year, Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen delivers a face-to-face apology to six living victims of a 1950s social experiment in which 22 Greenlandic children were taken from their families and sent to Denmark to be integrated into Danish society. Now six women are suing the Danish state for a 1960s involuntary birth control campaign.

By Reuters - October 3, 2023
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Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen delivers a face-to-face apology to six living victims of a 1950s social experiment in which 22 Greenlandic children were taken from their families and sent to Denmark to be integrated into Danish society, at the National Museum, in Copenhagen, Denmark, March 9, 2022. Liselotte Sabroe/Ritzau Scanpix/via REUTERS/File Photo

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) – A group of women in Greenland are seeking compensation from Denmark over an involuntary birth control campaign launched in the 1960s, their lawyer said on Monday.

With an official investigation by the governments of Greenland and its former colonial ruler Denmark not due to report until May 2025, the group are seeking compensation now, given some of the women are in their 70s and 80s.

“What do we need it for when we clearly know that there have been violations of the law and human rights,” Naja Lyberth, one of the women seeking compensation, told Reuters.

The scandal came to light when Danish broadcaster DR reported last year that records showed that, between 1966 and 1970, 4,500 intrauterine devices were fitted into women and girls as young as 13, without their knowledge or consent.

The Danish and Greenland governments commissioned a team of researchers to uncover the extent of the cases and the decision-making process that led to the campaign in the years between 1960 and 1991, when Greenland gained authority over its healthcare system.

The women are seeking 300,000 Danish crowns ($42,380) each, the women’s lawyer Mads Pramming told Reuters.

He sent the claim to Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen’s, office on behalf of the women on Monday. The prime minister’s office did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

Greenland was a Danish colony until 1953 but is now a semi-sovereign territory of Denmark, with a population of just 57,000.

Allegations of misconduct by Danish authorities against the people of its former colony have emerged in recent years.

Last year, Denmark publicly apologized to the victims of a 1950s experiment in which children from Greenland were taken to Denmark.

($1 = 7.0790 Danish crowns)

(Reporting by Johannes Birkebaek; Editing by Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen and Alison Williams)