Rape and Domestic Violence: The law criminalizes rape against women or men (the statute is gender neutral), including spousal rape and domestic violence. Rape is not defined by a lack of consent, but rather by whether physical violence, threat, or coercion is involved or if the victim is found to have been unable to resist. Penalties for rape include imprisonment for up to 12 years for aggravated circumstances and up to six years for domestic violence. The government effectively prosecuted persons accused of rape. In 2018 the government developed a four-year national action plan to combat psychological and physical violence in close relationships and allocated 101 million kroner ($15.1 million) to implement the plan.
A 2018 report by the National Institute of Public Health stated that approximately 1.6 percent of Danish women above the age of 16 reported being victims of physical violence by their partner within the previous year. Figures from the Crime Prevention Council showed that an estimated 5,400 rapes and attempted rapes occur annually. According to the Crime Prevention Council, in 2018 police made 1,079 official reports of rape or attempted rape, and 234 indictments for rape followed. In March Amnesty International published a report declaring that the country has a pervasive rape culture and was “failing to live up to its human rights obligations to protect women against rape, investigate rape crimes, prosecute those responsible, and provide compensation to victims.” In response to Amnesty’s report, then minister of justice Soren Pape Poulsen responded on Twitter, “Thanks so much for putting this on the agenda. It is utterly important to bring justice to sexual assault victims.”
Faroese law criminalizes rape with penalties up to 12 years’ imprisonment. The law considers nonconsensual sex with a victim in a “helpless state” to be sexual abuse rather than rape. In certain instances, it also reduces the penalty for rape and sexual violence within marriage.
Greenlandic law criminalizes rape but reduces the penalty for rape and sexual violence within marriage. Persons convicted of rape in Greenland typically receive a prison sentence of 18 months.
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 law considers sexual harassment an unsafe working condition and gives labor unions or the Equal Treatment Board the responsibility to resolve it (see also section 7.e.). The government enforced the law effectively.
Coercion in Population Control: There were no reports of coerced abortion or involuntary sterilization.
Discrimination: Women have the same legal status and rights as men, including under family, labor, property, nationality, and inheritance laws. The government enforced the law effectively. Little discrimination was 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 medical practitioners to register promptly the births of children they deliver, and they generally did so.
Child Abuse: Child abuse is illegal and punishable by up to two years in prison. The National Police and Public Prosecutor’s Office actively investigated child abuse cases. According to police statistics, approximately 17 percent of total sexual offenses in Greenland were crimes of “sexual relations with individuals below the age of 15.”
In 2018, 27 percent of all reports of sexual crimes made against minors in Greenland came from the town of Tasiilaq, even though Tasiilaq (population approximately 2,800) comprised only 5 percent of the total Greenlandic population. In a report conducted by the Greenlandic Police, the Municipality of Sermesooq, and the Greenlandic Self-Rule, authorities reported 191 sexual crimes in Tasiilaq from 2014 to 2018. In 2018 alone, there were 20 reports of child abuse. As of June 13, 15 cases of sexual assaults against children continued. On September 26, the government allocated 5.3 million kroner ($790,000) to aid vulnerable children in Tasiilaq.
The government’s Children’s Council monitors children’s rights and promotes children’s interests in legislative matters.
Early and Forced Marriage: The legal minimum age for marriage is 18.
Sexual Exploitation of Children: The law prohibits the commercial sexual exploitation of children and child pornography. Penalties for the distribution of child pornography include up to a six-year prison sentence. The government generally enforced these laws. The minimum age for consensual sexual activity is 15. The purchase of sexual services from a person younger than 18 is illegal.
The law in Greenland prohibits sexual relations with children younger than 15; Greenlandic Police determine the penalties for perpetrators.
Displaced Children: The government considered unaccompanied minor refugees and migrants to be vulnerable, and the law includes special rules regarding them. A personal representative was appointed for all unaccompanied children who sought asylum or who stayed in the country without permission.
Institutionalized Children: An April study by the Danish Red Cross concluded that 61 percent of the children living at the deportation camp Sjaelsmark were likely to be diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder. The Danish Red Cross also found that twice as many children at the facility were at high risk for mental illness when compared to newly arrived children. The municipality of Hoersholm disclosed that 141 children were living at Sjaelsmark on May 27. From April 2016 to September 2018 there were 103 reports of violence, threats, and suspected radicalization among residents. From February 2015 to March 2018, there were four documented suicide attempts. The camp’s facilities were widely criticized in media for a lack of kitchen facilities for families and insufficient school offerings. The camp had a fence around its outer perimeter, and visitors were only allowed at certain times. The Red Cross report concluded that half of 11- to 17-year-old children had symptoms of posttraumatic stress syndrome, and many of them suffered from loss of appetite, nightmares, and problems sleeping. The ombudsman noted in a December 2018 report that the conditions for children at Sjaelsmark were likely “to make their childhood substantially more difficult and to restrict their natural development.”
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 https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/International-Parental-Child-Abduction/for-providers/legal-reports-and-data/reported-cases.html.
The Jewish Community in Denmark (Det Jodiske Samfund i Danmark) estimated between 6,000 and 8,000 Jews lived in the country, most in the Copenhagen area.
Representatives of the Jewish community reported 45 anti-Semitic acts against the Jewish community in 2018, 50 percent more than in the previous year. The acts included assault, physical harassment, threats, vandalism, and hate speech. During the year the government cooperated with the Jewish community to provide police protection for the Great Synagogue of Copenhagen as well as other locations of importance to the Jewish community. Jewish community leaders reported continued good relations with police and the ability to communicate their concerns to authorities, including the minister of justice.
On November 9, the 81st anniversary of the Kristallnacht (the Night of Broken Glass) pogrom against Jews in Germany, police reported incidents of harassment and vandalism against Jews in five cities in the country. At a Jewish graveyard in Randers, Ostre Kirkegard, vandals covered more than 80 tombstones in green paint. Police arrested two persons and charged them with vandalism and, preliminarily, a hate crime.
Trafficking in Persons
See the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report at https://www.state.gov/trafficking-in-persons-report/.
Persons with Disabilities
The law prohibits discrimination against and harassment of persons with physical, sensory, intellectual, or mental disabilities. It also mandates access by persons with disabilities to government buildings, education, employment, information, and communications. The government enforced these provisions.
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 mental disabilities. The country maintained a system of guardianship for persons considered incapable of managing their own affairs due to psychosocial or mental disabilities. Persons under guardianship who do not possess legal capacity have the right to vote in local and regional elections as well as in elections to the European Parliament, but not in national elections.
Greenland employed a spokesperson to promote the rights and interests of persons with disabilities. According to media reports, persons with disabilities in Greenland continued to lack adequate access to physical aids, counselling, educated professionals, and appropriate housing. Many Greenlanders with disabilities had to be relocated to Denmark because of lack of support resources in Greenland.
A government action plan, targeting neighborhoods of majority non-Western immigrants, seeks to eliminate “ghettos” by 2030. In October the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of the UN Human Rights Council urged the country not to define a “ghetto” using the proportion of residents from “non-Western” countries, considering it discriminatory. Legislation went into force in July requiring “ghetto” parents to send toddlers older than the age of one to government-funded daycare to be taught “Danish values,” including Christmas and Easter traditions. Authorities withheld quarterly benefits of up to 4,557 kroner ($683) from noncompliant parents.
The law protects the rights of the indigenous Inuit inhabitants of Greenland, who are Danish citizens and whose legal system seeks to accommodate their traditions. Through their elected internally autonomous government, they participated in decisions affecting their lands, culture, traditions, and the exploitation of energy, minerals, and other natural resources.
Acts of Violence, Discrimination, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
The law prohibits hate speech based on sexual orientation and gender identity as well as discrimination against persons based on sexual orientation. The victim’s sexual orientation can be an aggravating circumstance in crimes.
The law affords individuals legal gender recognition, but government guidelines since 2012 require that individuals undergoing transition receive hormone treatment at one of two designated government-run clinics; private physicians are not permitted to establish this course of treatment.
Other Societal Violence or Discrimination
During the year representatives from the Muslim community reported discrimination against Muslims. Statistics from the Muslim community on anti-Islamic incidents were not available, but according to police figures 63 religiously motivated hate crimes against Muslims occurred in 2018. Representatives from the Muslim community reported that Muslims in the country lived with a sense of increased scrutiny from the government and society. The chairman of Grimhoj Mosque, Omar al-Saadi, noted that Muslims in the country came from war-torn countries and just wanted to live in peace, but the government “keeps sending messages that we just don’t like you,” citing deliberate provocations such as the “burqa ban” and burnings of the Quran by anti-Islam party leader Rasmus Paludan.
During the year authorities fined 23 persons under the law banning masks and face coverings, including burqas and niqabs. Fines imposed for first offenders included 1,000 kroner ($150) upon any violation of the ban and, if repeated, up to 10,000 kroner ($1,500). During the year Paludan held Quran-burning “demonstrations” in typically immigrant neighborhoods across the country, citing freedom of speech rights. Paludan’s Quran-burning demonstration on Palm Sunday, in which he received heavy police protection, led to riots, burned cars, and rock throwing. Then prime minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen called Paludan’s demonstration “a meaningless provocation.”
In August unknown vandals defaced the Muslim World League’s (MWL) building by graffitiing the word “terrorists” on it. MWL director Basri Kurtis reported the incident to police.