Indigenous women throughout Greenland – including its capitol city, Nuuk, seen here – are suing Denmark’s government for past reproductive injustices. (Credit: Panoramio, Wikimedia Commons)

Indigenous women in Greenland have filed a lawsuit against Denmark, in the name of reproductive freedom.

A group of 143 Inuit women living in the autonomous Danish territory are attempting to hold its health authorities accountable for fitting them with intrauterine contraceptive devices in the 1960s and 1970s without their informed consent. Many were teenagers at the time, the suit adds. In all, they are seeking 43 million kroner, or $6.3 million, in damages.

The motivation behind the initial implantations, reportedly, was to stave off population growth. Instead, the women assert, their human rights were violated. And the practice wasn’t limited to the individuals involved in the lawsuit – roughly 4,500 women in all were fitted with the IUDs, Denmark health authorities report.

Indeed, Danish officials, for their part, don’t dispute the charge. “The pain, physically and emotionally, that they have experienced is still there today,” health minister Magnus Heunicke said to the Associated Press. 

In September 2022, the governments of Denmark and Greenland even joined forces to investigate the practice. Yet while the findings are expected to be released next year, the group’s lawyer, Mads Pramming, told the AP that the women she represents feel they’ve already waited long enough for justice.

”The oldest of us are over 80 years old, and therefore we cannot wait any longer,” one of the women, Naja Lyberth, was quoted as noting to Greenland station KNR. She was just 14 when she was fitted with one of the IUDs.

Lyberth added: “As long as we live, we want to regain our self-respect and respect for our wombs.”