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Denmark says sorry to thousands of people with disabilities for decades of abuse

The Danish government has apologized to thousands of people with disabilities who were abused in state-run facilities from 1933 to 1980. The abuse included forced sterilization, sexual assault, violence, and medical negligence.

The social affairs minister, Pernille Rosenkrantz-Theil, said the state failed to protect the citizens and expressed regret for what happened. She said the apology was a recognition of the wrongs done and a promise that they would never happen again. Some of the victims attended the event where the minister issued the apology and shared their stories of suffering and trauma.

The apology came after an inquiry in 2020 revealed the extent of the abuse and the flawed policies that enabled it. Denmark had laws that allowed sterilization of psychiatric patients until 1967 and required permission from authorities for people with disabilities to marry until 1989. The inquiry also found that some of the people committed to the facilities had no disabilities at all, but were simply considered socially undesirable. The minister said the apology was one of the first steps to ensure justice and dignity for the victims and their families.

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