Protests decry Polish government plan to leave anti-violence deal

WARSAW, POLAND (AP) — Thousands of people in Warsaw and some other cities in Poland protested on Friday against plans by the conservative government to withdraw from Europe’s Istanbul Convention against domestic violence and violence against women and children.

Carrying signs of the “Women’s Strike” rights movement, they chanted “Fight against the virus not against women” as they marched through downtown Warsaw.

They rallied in front of the offices of a Roman Catholic organisation of lawyers, Ordo Iuris, that is pushing for the withdrawal. They said Ordo Iuris members are “fundamentalists”.

Protests were also held in Wroclaw, Czestochowa and some other cities.

The government has recently signalled that it plans to leave the convention that was ratified by the previous, liberal administration in 2015. The government and other critics contend the convention goes against Poland’s constitution.

Liberal opposition parties support the convention. The Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combatting violence against women and domestic violence is based on the premise that women are targetted with violence just because they are women. It states that men and women have equal rights and obliges state authorities to take steps to prevent violence against women, protect the victims and prosecute the perpetrators.

One of the provisions that raised questions by Poland’s government said that neither culture, custom, religion, tradition or so-called ‘honour’ can justify violence.

Protesters in a rally in Warsaw, Poland. PHOTO: AP