NO to intimidation of women’s rights organisations!
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On 4th of October 2017, police entered the premises of several women’s non-governmental organizations in Poland: Women’s Rights Centre and Baba, which help victims of domestic violence and participated in this week’s women’s rights protests. Police officers brought with them warrants to confiscate documentation of projects that were financed by the Ministry of Justice. They took computers, hard drives and binders.
This happened one day after massive street protests of thousands of Poles, mostly women, who marched through many Polish and foreign cities demanding greater reproductive rights and protesting against what they see as sexual discrimination by the current government. These demonstrations took place on the first anniversary of “Black Protest” / Polish Women’s Strike when women dressed in black took to the streets in Poland and stopped a plan in parliament for a total ban on abortion. This year organizers also collected signatures for a petition calling for the abortion law to be liberalized. The timing of this incident adds further to our concerns, as we fear that women’s organisations are being targeted at in order to intimidate them into curtailing their activities geared towards furthering the cause of gender equality in the country.
We call on all pro-democratic and human rights organisations and individuals to join us in signing this petition.
To Beata Szydło (the Prime Minister of Poland),
It is with great concern that we have received the news of this incident. We, undersigned, citizens of Poland, Europe and the World, are highly concerned with this latest turn of events in the country. We demand an urgent and official explanation, as well as an investigation into any potential abuse of legal rules and procedures, and/or power that might have occurred in the process.
We understand that it was specifically women’s non-governmental organisations that were being targeted at, which is particularly worrying considering that these are some of the key organisations helping women experiencing violence, harassment and inequality in Poland, including, but not limited to the Centre for Women’s Rights.
It is also important to note that this latest attack, targeting non-governmental organisations, providing invaluable support to vulnerable women, comes just a day after the latest Black Protest, a day of action for women’s rights all over Poland.
Additionally, it is significant and should be noted that such actions can have serious, and potentially long-term, adverse effects on the functioning of the said organisations, effectively limiting abused and disadvantaged women’s access to essential support and legal help.
It is absolutely crucial that an official public statement is made urgently and an investigation into these developments is carried out in order to avoid any long-term damage being done to those organisations.
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