Denmark says female migrants from ‘non-western’ backgrounds must do work to get government benefits

Danish Prime minister Mette Frederiksen has said some migrant workers will be required by the state to work 37 hours a week to receive welfare benefits, with the rules apparently aimed at women from non-western backgrounds.

Frederiksen said the new rules are to help migrants assimilate into Danish society, but they are also in line with the country’s pursuit to reduce asylum-seeker applications to zero.

The new restrictions will be imposed on those who have been receiving welfare benefits from the Danish government for three to four years, but who haven’t achieved a certain level of proficiency in Danish.

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“For too many years we have done a disservice to a lot of people by not demanding anything of them,” said the PM, who added that the rules were particularly aimed at women living on the benefits, who weren’t working and were from “non-western” backgrounds.

The Danish government says six out of 10 women from Turkey, North Africa and the Middle East are not employed.

“It is basically a problem when we have such a strong economy, where the business community demands labor, that we then have a large group, primarily women with non-Western backgrounds, who are not part of the labor market,” Frederiksen said.

Despite often being thought of as a migrant-friendly, ‘Nordic socialist’ country, Denmark has one of the toughest stances on immigration within the EU.

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In June, it passed a law by a 70-24 vote, allowing it to deport asylum seekers and process applications while they are outside of the country.

Last week, Denmark’s former immigration minister Inger Stojberg went on trial in the country’s rarely-used Impeachment Court. The “hardline” ex-minister was accused of illegally separating asylum-seeker couples in which wives were underage.

Responding to the government plan on Wednesday, Mai Villadsen, a spokeswoman for the left-wing Red Green Alliance, told TV2 she feared the new rule could end up as “state-supported social dumping” that was “sending people into crazy jobs.”

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