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Section 6. Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons


Rape and Domestic Violence: The law criminalizes rape, including spousal rape, and domestic violence. Penalties for rape include imprisonment for eight years and up to 12 years in cases where the rape was considered violent and dangerous in nature, or if there were other aggravating circumstances. The government effectively prosecuted persons accused of rape. According to National Police and Ministry of Justice statistics, there were 628 reports of rape in 2015 compared with 462 reported cases in 2014.

Faroese law criminalizes rape, but considers nonconsensual sex with a victim in a “helpless state” to be sexual abuse rather than rape and stipulates a much lighter penalty for such acts. In certain instances it also reduces the level of penalty for rape and sexual violence within marriage or provides for exclusion of punishment altogether. The penalties for rape include imprisonment for eight years and up to 12 years in cases where the rape was considered violent and dangerous in nature, or if there were other aggravating circumstances. “Mitigating circumstances” such as marriage can in some cases reduce imprisonment to four years. According to National Police statistics, there were 26 reports of crimes against sexual morality, including rape and indecent exposure in 2015, compared with 25 cases in 2014.

Greenlandic law criminalizes rape but reduces the penalty for rape and sexual violence within marriage. There are no fixed imprisonment terms for rape, because the Greenlandic criminal justice system utilizes an offender treatment model based on traditional indigenous practices that gives courts a great deal of flexibility in sentencing. Persons convicted of rape typically receive a prison sentence of one-and-a-half years. According to National Police reports, there were 134 reports of rape in 2015, compared with 132 reports of rape in 2014.

The crime of rape was widely believed to be underreported throughout the kingdom. A study done in 2014 by Copenhagen University in conjunction with the Ministry of Justice and the National Police estimated that approximately 3,600 rapes occurred in the country, rather than the 462 reported that year. According to the Ministry of Justice, the average penalty for rape was two years of prison, which many observers criticized as far too low.

Violence against women, including spousal abuse, remained a societal problem. A 2015 report by the Mary Foundation found that 62 percent of Greenlandic women experienced violence at least once in their lifetime. Domestic violence was also considered a social taboo and was alleged to be underreported, particularly in many small, tightly knit Greenlandic communities.

The government and NGOs operated 24-hour hotlines, counseling centers, and shelters for female survivors of violence. The royal family supported a variety of NGOs that worked to improve conditions and services at shelters and to assist families afflicted with domestic violence.

Sexual Harassment: The law prohibits sexual harassment and provides that authorities may order a perpetrator or an employer who allowed or failed to prevent an incident of harassment to pay monetary compensation to victims. The government enforced the law effectively. The law provides that most such cases be processed through the labor unions, which function as civil society organizations, or the Equal Treatment Board.

The DIHR highlighted that instances of sexual harassment were significantly underreported. According to a 2014 report from the EU’s Agency for Fundamental Rights, the latest available, 37 percent of all Danish women reported experiencing sexual harassment. In October 2015 the government reprioritized 6.5 million kroner ($975,000) for projects designed to support victims of harassment and stalking.

During the year the Danish Economic Council of the Labor Movement reported that one in four women had experienced sexual harassment, threats of violence, or bullying at work over the previous year. The report also indicated that many hesitated to come forward with complaints due to workplace cultures or concern their complaint would be dismissed.

Reproductive Rights: Couples and individuals have the right to decide the number, spacing, and timing of their children; manage their reproductive health; and have access to the information and means to do so, free from discrimination, coercion, or violence.

Discrimination: Women have the same legal status and rights as men, including under family, labor, property, nationality, and inheritance laws. There was little discrimination reported in employment, ownership and management of businesses, or access to credit, education, or housing.


Birth Registration: Most children acquire citizenship from their parents. Stateless persons and certain persons born in the country to noncitizens may acquire citizenship by naturalization, provided, in most cases, that they apply for citizenship before their 21st birthday. The law requires that medical practitioners promptly register the births of children they deliver, and they generally did so.

Child Abuse: The National Police and Public Prosecutor’s Office actively investigated child abuse cases. In 2015 authorities prosecuted 146 allegations of rape involving a child 12 years and younger and 156 allegations of sexual intercourse with a child 15 years and younger.

In Greenland child abuse and neglect remained a significant problem. According to an April 2015 study by the Danish National Center for Social Research commissioned by the Greenlandic government, every other woman and every third man indicated that they were subject to sexual contact with an adult before they turned 15 years of age. Of the sample, 7 percent indicated their first sexual contact occurred before they had turned seven years of age. According to the Greenlandic branch of the DIHR, approximately 5,000 Greenlandic children did not thrive due to sexual and physical abuse or negligence by parents who were suffering from alcohol abuse as well as a lack of economic, personal, and social opportunities. National Police statistics from 2015, reported 31 prosecutions for sexual intercourse with a child who was 15 years of age or younger and nine cases of sexual intercourse with a child who was 16 or 17.

Early and Forced Marriage: The legal age for marriage is 18.

Sexual Exploitation of Children: The law prohibits the commercial sexual exploitation of children and child pornography. The government generally enforced these laws. In 2015 authorities prosecuted 110 cases of child pornography, up from 71 cases in 2014, perhaps due to changes in statistical methods. The minimum age of consensual sexual activity is 15. The purchase of sexual services from a person under the age of 18 is illegal.

Displaced Children: The government regarded refugees and migrants who were unaccompanied minors as vulnerable, and the law includes special rules regarding them. A personal representative is appointed for all unaccompanied children who seek asylum or who stay in the country without permission. The powers and obligations of a personal representative are equal to those of a holder of custody rights. The representative supports and cares for the minor and also attends asylum interviews or other meetings with authorities.

According to the DIHR, displaced children performed less successfully than other children in almost all areas, including schooling, health, and general well-being. Children placed outside their home, especially children who are placed at a later stage in their lives, continued to run much greater risk of not completing secondary education or receiving higher education.

International Child Abductions: The country is a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. See the Department of State’s Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction at


The Jewish NGO community in Denmark estimated the Jewish population at between 6,000 and 8,000 persons.

In January a 16-year-old girl was arrested after police found bomb manuals and chemicals for making explosives at her residence. In March the girl was charged with preparing a terrorist attack against the Jewish private school in Copenhagen as well as another school. In addition, her friend, a 24-year-old who had recently returned from fighting in Syria, was arrested for acquiring bomb-making materials and plotting attacks on two additional schools. At year’s end both individuals were in custody and awaiting their final hearing.

In February a council member from the Danish People’s Party, Mogens Camre, was fined 8,000 kroner ($1,200) for tweeting anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim remarks.

Concerns remained in the Jewish community regarding a growing movement to prohibit infant male circumcision. Some organizations and individuals, including members of parliament, continued to campaign to have the practice banned.

Trafficking in Persons

See the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report at

Persons with Disabilities

The law prohibits discrimination against persons with physical, sensory, intellectual, and mental disabilities in employment, education, air travel and other transportation, access to health care, the judicial system, and the provision of other government services. It also mandates access by persons with disabilities to government buildings, education, information, and communications. The government generally enforced these provisions. The DIHR reported that the enforcement of antidiscrimination laws was well established for the workplace but less so in other areas, such as laws on accessibility, coercive measures in psychiatric treatment, self-determination, political participation, inclusion in the labor market, and equal access to healthcare. In addition, outside the labor market persons with disabilities did not enjoy full legal protection against discrimination, because there is no express prohibition of discrimination against persons with disabilities and no duty on the part of service providers to make reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities.

According to the DIHR’s human rights status report for 2016, between 37 percent and 48 percent of persons with major physical or mental disabilities reported instances of discrimination. The parliamentary ombudsman monitored the treatment of persons with disabilities and issued opinions regarding complaints of disability discrimination.

In its 2016 human rights status report, the DIHR criticized the September 2015 amendment of the Mental Health Act for failing to end the use of physical restraints during psychiatric treatment for periods in excess of 48 hours. The DIHR reported that the proportion of adults subjected to coercion in psychiatry remained unchanged at more than 22 percent.

The right of persons with disabilities to vote or participate in civic affairs was generally not restricted, but some persons with disabilities reported problems in connection with elections, including ballots that were not accessible to blind persons or persons with learning disabilities. The country maintained a system of guardianship for persons considered incapable of managing their own affairs due to psychosocial or intellectual disabilities.

In April parliament amended the voting law to give those under guardianship, who do not possess legal capacity, the right to vote in local and regional elections, as well as elections to the European Parliament.

According to the Greenlandic branch of the DIHR, persons with disabilities in Greenland, including children, had limited access to support, including physical aids, counselling, educated professionals, and appropriate housing. In addition, some persons with severe disabilities were placed in foster homes far away from their families or relocated to foster homes in Denmark because of lack of resources in Greenland.

In the Faroe Islands, steps have been taken to ensure an inclusive education system that provides education for all young persons. The law allows upper secondary education for autistic persons.

National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

According to the 2015 Annual Report on Hate Crimes published by the National Police, authorities recorded 198 hate crimes. The report categorized 104 of the hate crimes as racially motivated and three as having unspecified motivations. The government effectively investigated hate crimes and prosecuted the perpetrators.

Indigenous People

The law protects the rights of the indigenous Inuit inhabitants of Greenland, whose legal system seeks to accommodate their traditions. Through their elected internally autonomous government, they participated in decisions affecting their lands, culture, and traditions and the exploitation of energy, minerals, and other natural resources.

Indigenous Greenlandic people in Denmark remained underrepresented in the workforce, overrepresented on welfare rolls, and more susceptible to suicide, poverty, chronic health conditions, and sexual violence.

Acts of Violence, Discrimination, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

The law prohibits discrimination against persons based on sexual orientation. Any person who makes a statement or imparts other information that threatens, scorns, or degrades a group of persons because of their sexual orientation is liable to a fine or to imprisonment for not more than two years. If a person is found guilty of a crime the motive of which was the sexual orientation of the victim, the judge must consider that motive to be an aggravating factor when determining the sentence. The law allows transgender persons to obtain official documents reflecting their new gender identity without requiring a diagnosis for a mental disorder or undergoing surgery.

According to the 2015 Annual Report on Hate Crimes, there were 31 incidents of hate crimes based on sexual orientation. Authorities actively investigated and punished those complicit in abuses.

In May parliament adopted a law to stop officially classifying transgender persons as having a mental or behavioral disorder. Guidelines published in 2015, however, preclude regular doctors from prescribing hormones for gender-reassignment, and as a result all transsexual individuals must now visit a single hospital in Copenhagen. Activists pointed to this policy, among other medical treatment options, as evidence of continuing discrimination against LGBTI individuals.

Other Societal Violence or Discrimination

In February the national television network TV2, a publicly owned broadcaster with an independent editorial board, aired a four-part investigative documentary that negatively depicted Islam in the country. The program used undercover and sensational videography that purported to show imams at eight well known conservative Sunni mosques encouraging behavior that violated social norms and, in some cases, the law. Academics and civil society criticized the series as over-simplifying and sensationalizing the attitudes of Muslims and further fueling national tensions over the integration of refugees and migrants.

In May, two Muslim girls were attacked when they walked past a bar in Odense. Three ethnic Danes started yelling racist comments at the two women. This quickly escalated into an argument and violence with one of the women’s headscarves being ripped off. The woman later stated to the press that no onlookers attempted to stop the altercation.

In May the Center for Adult Education in Lyngby prohibited six Muslim women from wearing the niqab in school and referred them to their e-learning service. The school argued that the niqab limited interaction between teacher and student. Minister of Education Ellen Trane Norby supported the decision on the grounds the education center is an independent entity as well as the school’s argument that student-teacher interaction is important to the learning experience. Adult education centers in Aarhus, Albertslund, and Copenhagen also previously prohibited niqabs.

According to the 2015 Annual Report on Hate Crimes, authorities recorded 60 hate crimes as religiously motivated.

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