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HomeWorldIndigenous Greenland women sue Denmark over forced contraception

Indigenous Greenland women sue Denmark over forced contraception


An Inuit village in Greenland. 143 Inuit women have accused Danish health authority of violating their human rights. File photo
| Photo Credit: Reuters

A group of Indigenous women in Greenland has sued Denmark for forcing them to be fitted with intrauterine contraceptive devices in the 1960s and 70s, and demanded total compensation of nearly 43 million kroner ($6.3 million), Danish media reported on Monday.

The group of 143 Inuit women say Danish health authorities violated their human rights when they fitted them with the devices, commonly known as coils. Some of the women — including many who were teenagers at the time — were not aware of what happened or did not consent to the intervention.

Last year, 67 women had filed an initial lawsuit against Denmark over forced contraception.

The purpose was allegedly to limit population growth in Greenland by preventing pregnancy. The population on the Arctic island was rapidly increasing at the time because of better living conditions and better health care.

The small T-shaped device, made from plastic and copper, and fitted in the uterus, prevents sperm from fertilizing an egg.

Danish authorities say that as many as 4,500 women and girls — reportedly half of the fertile women in Greenland — received coil implants between the 1960s and mid-1970s.

Greenland, which is part of the Danish realm, was a colony under Denmark’s crown until 1953, when it became a province in the Scandinavian country.

Probe ongoing

In September 2022, the governments of Denmark and Greenland launched an investigation into the programme. The outcome of the probe is due next year. But the women’s lawyer, Mads Pramming, said they will not wait until then, adding that the only option for the women is to seek justice through the court.

“The oldest of us are over 80 years old, and therefore we cannot wait any longer,” Naja Lyberth, who was 14 when she had a coil fitted, told Greenland public broadcaster KNR. “As long as we live, we want to regain our self-respect and respect for our wombs.”



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