Greenland Calls On Denmark to Help Fight Child Sexual Abuse


Of the 191 cases reported, 152 have been prosecuted (some cases are still pending, and others have been dropped). Thirty-three percent of the prosecutions have led to convictions.

But perpetrators usually are not ostracized after convictions for molesting a child, the authors of the report were told. The report suggested that it was the result of a collective survival system that protects the community even at the expense of its children.

Greenland’s problems, and Tasiilaq’s in particular, echo those of other indigenous Arctic communities facing changing lifestyles. In a 2008 survey of Inuits in Canada, 52 percent of female respondents said they had experienced “severe sexual abuse” during their childhood.

In Alaska, rural communities have been struggling with high rates of rape for decades — by some accounts, rates 12 times higher than the national average.

Researchers said households in Tasiilaq that used to hunt and fish for food are now dependent on an unstable job market to survive. Without the connection to their native traditions, some lose identity and purpose and grasp for stimulants elsewhere, researchers say.

As one startling marker of social dislocation, one in five deaths in Tasiilaq is by suicide, said Henrik L. Hansen, Greenland’s chief medical officer. In Greenland over all, 8 percent of the population die by suicide — more than twice the rate of any independent nation, according to official figures.

About 80 percent of Greenland is covered with ice, and its vast, empty landscape tends to create isolated communities. Without many roads between towns and settlements, the island’s transportation is mostly done by air or sea, making it difficult to leave and still remain in close contact with relatives and friends. Unable to cut such social ties, experts say, some abuse victims tend to end up staying among their abusers.

“People will have to live right next to each other in spite of what has happened,” said Christian Friis, an anthropologist and an author of the report. “You don’t just move to another town.”

Source : Nytimes