As 25 November marks the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women members of the Global Alliance on Gender and Media in Europe express solidarity with women in Poland, united under the banner of Women’s Strike (Strajk Kobiet) in defense of their right to self-determination.
Violence against women can take the form of denying women access to affordable and adequate sexual and reproductive health care, including the right to choose whether and when one becomes pregnant and decides to continue with the pregnancy. Access to abortion is part and parcel of comprehensive health services, fundamental human right! Yet, the Polish government once again decided to restrict women in Poland from having access to reproductive health services and challenged their right to safe motherhood.
GAMAG Europe expresses firm opposition to this treatment of women by the Polish government. Opinion polls show that as many as 70% of Poles support Women’s Strike and understand the unethical nature of the attempt to tighten abortion law in Poland, in effect forcing women to continue pregnancies in cases when fetuses have severe congenital defects.
That is why GAMAG Europe supports Women’s Strike in Poland. Attempting to deprive women of their rights and civil liberties at a time so difficult for Poland, Europe and the world as the COVID -19 pandemic is an expression of the worst political and social instincts. We stand in solidarity with Poles who are protesting, organizing and arguing that women’s rights, including the right to freedom from violence, are fundamental to the wellbeing of the whole society.
It is also with great concern we observe police violence against the protesters and the increased brutality against women, non-binary and LGBT people in public spaces in Poland. These developments are all the more terrifying in light of the Polish government’s attempt to revoke the Anti-Violence Convention. This European treaty aimed at combating violence against women, is the first legally binding treaty of its kind in the world and leaving the Convention would be a major setback in the prevention, prosecution and elimination of violence against women in Poland. We see this as yet another decision of the Polish government to legitimize violence against women at all levels.
GAMAG Europe expresses full support for the demands of the Women’s Strike in Poland and calls on the Polish government to support work on the elimination of violence against women, as well as ensuring women’s sexual and reproductive rights. Bearing in mind that gender equality is a principal value of the EU we call Ursula von der Leyen, the President of European Commission, to condemn the attempts made by the Polish government to restrict abortion rights in Poland, revoke the Anti-Violence Convention, as well as legitimize police violence against the protesters and journalists in Poland, a direct attack on freedom of speech and freedom of the press.
Greta Gober, representative of GAMAG Europe Coordination Committee from Poland and Vice-President of IAWRT; Joanna Warecha, member of GAMAG Europe from Poland, journalist, reporter and human’s rights activist.
Stockholm and Warsaw, November 25, 2020