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Denmark – a small Scandinavian country in the Northern part of Europe, sporting around 5.6m people and known for an extensive welfare state, windmills and design. This country has in modern days kept a quiet, peaceful society and has been described as the ‘happiest place in the world’.
But as a native, I dare you not to take this idyllic image at face value. In February alone this year, three cases of horrific character have splashed the front pages in the small country. First there was the case of a 44-year-old man who killed his three children aged 2, 8 and 10. The motives are unknown but the police explained that the man, who is divorced from the children’s mother, had shot the children with a hunting riffle during the early hours of February 9. Before during so, he texted his ex-wife with the message that he was taking the children on a ‘journey’. Fearing that he might leave the country, the mother alerted the police who upon arrival to the house found all the children dead.
It was reported that the man had tried to commit suicide afterwards but this was soon rejected by the investigation. The initial interrogation was conducted behind closed doors and the man remains in custody at a psychiatric ward. The motives are still unclear and considering the gun control laws in Denmark, the use of a riffle is unusually dramatic.
The second case was of a 29-year-old man who contacted the police, explaining he had found his 22-year-old brother dead. When arriving to the scene, the police came to suspect that the man had in fact killed his younger brother himself and took him into custody. At the hearing, which was done behind closed doors, the 29-year-old was charged with strangling his younger brother do death with an unidentified string on February 16. The man refused to give a statement to the police and the court but pleaded not guilting before the hearing. He did not however appeal the court’s decision. In this case, the motives were also left unclear.
Finally, a gruesome case in the lines of the Fritzl case in Austria saw a 41-year-old father and 38-year-old mother and step-mother being charged on February 18 for gross neglect of their nine children. According to the public prosecutor, the children had been living for years in an accommodation filled with animal and human feces and without adequate sources of water and heat. The neglect of the children was so severe that a former chief psychologist with many years of experience in abusive violence admitted to never having reviewed a case so bad in an interview with the Danish newspaper Morgenavisen-Jyllandsposten.
The children were all subjected to a weekly regiment of violence – regular beatings, torture and depravation with an instance of boiling tomato soup being poured down the throat of one of the young boys. However, the main target was the oldest daughter who’s biological mother lives elsewhere. The investigation showed that she had been forced to eat animal feces, to shovel snow barefoot which had given her incipient gangrene, been raped repeatedly by the father – who also tried to get strangers to rape her. On top of this, the father forced the other children to beat her with objects and made them a part of the sadistic abuse of their sister.
This case is one of the worst known instances of child abuse in Denmark and has also been highlighted for the severe failures on behalf of the authorities who had been notified several times by concerned citizens about the state of the children. It was not until the now 20-year-old eldest daughter escaped that the police intervened and arrested the parents while handing the rest of the children over to child services.
Something is rotten in Denmark – just as it is in many other places. To be a small country does not mean that we are safe from evil, it only means that evil is less publicized outside of our borders.