What happened in Poland?

In 1989, Poland initiated the process of regaining of independence by states of the Soviet block. In June of this year, we held the first, partially free election, several months before the fall of the Berlin Wall in November. Unfortunately, as it was to turn out later on, it marked the beginning of the period of systematic reduction of rights and freedoms of the Polish women. The first sign of it was adoption in 1993 of a restrictive anti-abortion right despite collection of 1.7 million signatures in protest.

Since February 1997, we have had a Constitution, which warrants equality of rights and obligations of all citizens, respecting of their freedom, inviolability, privacy, right to life, health, education and judgment. Nevertheless, every year, another right becomes an empty slogan, and the recent activities of the government and certain social groups deprive women of their constitutional rights, and even human rights.

Investigations and court processes associated with rapes are so humiliating that 90% rapes are not reported to the police at all, 67% investigations are discontinued, and rapists, who are brought to court, usually get lenient sentences, many of them suspended.

In Poland, every year, 800 thousand women are victims to domestic violence. Although these facts are well known,  2016 was the first time, when a government subsidy was not granted to one of the biggest Polish organizations, providing psychological, legal and material assistance to such women [the Center for  Women’s Rights, established 21 years ago].

The project of full prohibition of abortion is so restrictive that it will limit the possibility of conducting of prenatal diagnosis and treatment of developmental disorders in embryos and fetuses, as, if these lead to abortion, the physician and the woman concerned will be threatened by an investigation and even imprisonment. Moreover, plans have been made to withdraw financing of free screening tests for cervical and breast cancer.

Domestic economic growth, instead of equalizing chances, deepens the stratification of salaries of women and men. Women still have to work harder to get promoted in their professions, in politics and in the society. Avoidance of payment of alimony by men is universal (at present, the alimony debt to children in Poland amounts to as much as 9.7 billion PLN), which, unfortunately, meets social approval.

The present government, declaring its care for development of the family and procreation, at the same time limits medical (including obstetric) assistance to pregnant women – by modifying the act on in vitro so that, in fact, it becomes useless; the Social Insurance Office has lowered benefits for pregnant women; for the first time, subsidies have been taken away from an organization helping abused, beaten and abandoned children [the Nobody’s Children Foundation, established 25 years ago]. According to rumors, Poland may also be planning to withdraw from the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence.

Because of all this, we are convinced that time has come for women to say: Enough!

Because of our justified concern that degradation of status of women in Poland will progress, because treatment of women as objects is an incomprehensible systemic political objective of the state, we are calling for help of the free world, which treats human rights and civic freedoms as invaluable.

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