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Greenland Women Seek Compensation for Forced Birth Control Campaign in the 1960s

A group of 67 women from Greenland is seeking compensation from the Danish government for their forced participation in a birth control program during the 1960s. This campaign aimed to limit birth rates among the indigenous population, and at least 4,500 women, including teenagers, were fitted with contraceptive coils without their consent.

Although an official inquiry into the matter is set to conclude in 2025, these women, some of whom are now in their 70s, are advocating for immediate compensation. They are requesting 300,000 kroner (£34,880; $42,150) each.

Greenland, which is currently a semi-sovereign territory of Denmark, was a Danish colony until 1953.

The extensive nature of this campaign came to light last year through a podcast published by Danish broadcaster DR. Records from national archives revealed that between 1966 and 1970, intrauterine devices (IUDs) were inserted into women, some as young as 13, without their knowledge or consent.

According to estimates by the Greenlandic government, by the end of 1969, 35% of women in the territory who were of childbearing age had been fitted with an IUD.

A joint commission established by the Danish and Greenlandic governments is scheduled to release its findings regarding the program in May 2025. However, the women affected by this campaign believe that justice cannot wait, given their advancing age.

Psychologist Naja Lyberth, who initiated the compensation claim, emphasized the urgency of their request, as some women faced serious health complications or infertility due to ill-fitted devices. Others were unaware of the contraceptive devices until recently discovered during medical examinations.

Lyberth accused the Danish government of the era of attempting to control Greenland’s population size to reduce welfare costs. She contended that the government had already violated their human rights and caused them substantial harm.

Mads Pramming, the lawyer representing the women, submitted their claim to Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen’s office. While the group anticipates a government response pending the commission’s findings, they are prepared to take legal action if their request is declined.

In a similar vein, Denmark issued an apology and provided compensation last year to six Inuit individuals who were forcibly separated from their families in the 1950s as part of an effort to establish a Danish-speaking elite within Greenland.

Greenland, with a population of approximately 57,000, is the world’s largest island and the northernmost territory. It maintains its own flag, language, and prime minister but still falls under Danish control concerning currency, justice, foreign affairs, and security.