Inuit Greenland Women Demand Answers, Justice in Birth Control Scandal

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tags: Greenland, womens history, reproductive freedom, Inuit

Thousands of Inuit women and girls were fitted with an intrauterine device (IUD), commonly known as a coil, during the 1960s and 70s.

It is a contraceptive device placed inside the womb - or uterus - to prevent pregnancy.

Among the women and girls fitted with an IUD was Naja Lyberth.

It was in the 1970s that a doctor told Naja, who believes she was then aged about 13, to go to her local hospital to have a coil implanted following a routine school medical examination.

"I didn't really know what it [was] because he never explained or got my permission," says Naja, who at the time was living in Maniitsoq, a small town on Greenland's west coast.

"I was afraid. I couldn't tell my parents," she says. "I was a virgin. I had never even kissed a boy."

Now 60, Naja is one of the first to speak out about what happened.

"I can remember the doctors [in] white coats, and maybe there was a nurse. I saw the metal things [stirrups] where you should spread your legs. It was very frightening. The equipment the doctors used was so big for my child body - it was like having knives inside me."

Naja says her parents' permission had not been sought, and that her classmates were also sent to hospital but did not talk about it because "it was too shocking".

She has set up a Facebook group to allow women to share their common experiences and help each other cope with the trauma. More than 70 women have joined.

A recent podcast, Spiralkampagnen ("coil campaign"), found records indicating that up to 4,500 women and girls - roughly half of all fertile females - had an IUD implanted in Greenland between 1966 and 1970. But the procedures continued into the mid-1970s.

Read entire article at BBC

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