New #MeToo wave challenges Denmark's image as haven of equality

On Wednesday Morten Ostergaard, leader of the Social Liberal party, resigned after it emerged he had placed his hand on the thigh of a female colleague ten years earlier.

Picture: Pixabay.com

COPENHAGEN - Thousands of women across Denmark have come forward in recent weeks with stories of sexism and harassment in the Nordic country which is often viewed as a bastion of gender equality.

On Wednesday Morten Ostergaard, leader of the Social Liberal party, resigned after it emerged he had placed his hand on the thigh of a female colleague ten years earlier.

"Morten has apologised and I have forgiven him" MP Lotte Rod wrote on Facebook.

"The problem is no longer what happened but the way it was handled," she added, calling for "a change of culture".

In 2017 a public discussion arose in Denmark as the #MeToo movement emboldened women across the world to speak out about their experiences of discrimination and sexual assault.

However, a widespread change in attitudes did not materialise in the Nordic nation, which regularly scores highly in international measures of equality.

The #MeToo problem was often considered "a minority issue, something that was not really Danish," Camilla Mohring Reestorff, associate professor in culture and media studies at Aarhus University, told AFP.

Danes tend to see themselves as "progressive, free and equal," she said, adding, "It can make us a bit blind when it comes to sexism."

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