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5 Mar, 2024 12:12

Women sue EU state over birth control experiment – media

Over 100 Inuit from Greenland claim they were forcibly fitted with contraceptive devices by Danish authorities, local media have reported
Women sue EU state over birth control experiment – media

A group of indigenous women in Greenland have sued Denmark over an involuntary contraception campaign aimed at limiting the birth rate in the Arctic territory in the 1960s and 1970s, Danish broadcaster DR reported on Monday.

The 143 Inuit women claim Danish health authorities violated their human rights when they fitted them with intrauterine contraceptive coil devices. The women are seeking total compensation of nearly 43 million kroner ($6.3 million).

“The lawsuit was filed this morning. My clients chose to do this because they received no reply to their request for compensation in October,” the lawyer for the plaintiffs, Mads Pramming, said.

“Their human rights were violated, they are the living proof.”

In October, 67 women, now in their 70s and 80s, demanded compensation of 300,000 kroner ($44,000) each.

Records based on data from the national archives disclosed by the Danish broadcaster in 2022 revealed that 4,500 indigenous women, reportedly half of the fertile women in Greenland, became part of the involuntary contraception campaign.

Coil implants were fitted between 1966 and 1970 to women and girls as young as 13, without their consent or even knowledge in some cases. The small device, made from plastic and copper and fitted in the uterus, makes it difficult for sperm to fertilize an egg.

Denmark carried out the campaign secretly with the alleged purpose of limiting the rate of birth in Greenland by preventing pregnancies, the outlet said.  The population on the Arctic island was booming at the time because of high living standards and better health care.

In September 2022, the governments of Denmark and Greenland launched an investigation into the program with Danish Health Minister Sophie Lohde pledging to “get to the bottom” of this “deeply unfortunate case.”

The probe’s conclusions are expected to be made public next year. However, Naja Lyberth, who was 14 when she had a coil fitted, said the group could not wait until then and that the women would seek justice in court.

“The oldest of us are over 80 years old, and therefore we cannot wait any longer,” Lyberth, told Greenland broadcaster KNR. “As long as we live, we want to regain our self-respect and respect for our wombs.”

The case is not the first time Greenlandic people say they have suffered at the hands of Danish authorities.

In 2022, Denmark apologized and paid compensation to Inuits more than 70 years after a failed social experiment.

In 1951, 22 Inuit children were taken from their homeland to Denmark, enticed with the promise of a good education worthy of the country’s future elite. Copenhagen intended for the children to return home as role models for Greenland. Only six are still alive today, all in their 70s.

Greenland was a Danish colony until 1953, after which it acquired home rule.