Remote Ittoqqortoormiit at sundown

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Greenlandic women to sue Danish government unless compensated for IUD campaign

Sixty-seven Greenlandic women who were fitted with a contraceptive coil fifty years ago have requested compensation of 300.000 Danish krone ($66,000) each.

If their request is not met, they will sue the Danish government. 

More than 4,500 Greenlandic women and girls were given IUDs by Danish doctors in Greenland between 1966 and 1970 as part of a government initiative to slow the rapid population growth in the country. Some women were as young as 12, and many of them did not provide informed consent to the procedure.

Naja Lyberth, 61, was one of the first women to speak out about her and her peers’ experience. She said they cannot wait any longer for the Danish state to recognise their request for compensation. 

“We are getting older and the oldest of us who were subjected to the spiral campaign without consent are approaching 80 years of age,” Lyberth told Missing Perspectives. 

“The IUD made us ‘sick’ and the doctors made our health worse - some have had their uterus removed due to complications. In other words, we have been subjected to torture-like experiences that were ignored by the doctors/government.”

She says the women’s approach is part of their journey of reconciliation with the Danish government. 

“We want the government to recognize that gross human rights violations have been committed against us - many of us who still had girl bodies as young as 12 years old experience IUD removal as a torture-like experience.”

An official investigation run by the Danish Ministry of Interior and Health and the Greenlandic Department of Health into the extent of the practices, is expected to be completed in May 2025. 

“We don't have to wait for the IUD inquiry because we already know that the government has broken the law on a number of human rights laws,” Lyberth said.