Greenland women seek compensation after involuntary birth control scandal

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

A group of women in Greenland are seeking compensation from Denmark over an involuntary birth control campaign launched in the 1960s, their lawyer has said.

At least 4,500 women and girls as young as 13 are said to have been fitted with coils between 1966 and 1970, without their knowledge or consent.

The scale of the historic scandal came to light last year, when the issue was reported on by Danish broadcaster DR.

An official investigation by the governments of Greenland and its former colonial ruler Denmark is underway, but the report is not due until May 2025.

Given some of the women are in their 70s and 80s, the group is seeking compensation now, ahead of the report’s release.

"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 news agency Reuters.

According to the Guardian, 67 women are taking part in the lawsuit.

One of the victims told the newspaper she was fitted with a coil - also known as an intrauterine device (IUD) - during a medical examination at school as a teenager without her consent.

She likened it to “sterilising”, adding that while she had later had a child, other women had found they could not.

She said some women had experienced side effects from the coil devices including pain, bleeding and infections.

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 (around £34,890) 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 apologised to the victims of a 1950s experiment in which children from Greenland were taken to Denmark.