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Poland: Government's 'deeply misogynistic' attitude condemned

People demonstre at the Main Square during another day of the protests against restrictions on abortion law in Poland.
People demonstre at the Main Square during another day of the protests against restrictions on abortion law in Poland. © Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto

Council of Europe report critical of failure to combat violence against women, gender inequality and LGBTI discrimination

Government’s near total ban on abortion, lack of protection for victims of violence and no recognition that sex without consent is rape is a human rights violation 

‘Polish law makers are threatening to make the country less safe for women and girls’ - Monica Costa Riba

Following today’s publication of a damning new Council of Europe report which finds that Poland is failing to adequately prevent and combat violence against women and girls, Monica Costa Riba, Amnesty International’s Senior Women’s Rights in Europe Campaigner, said:

"This report confirms what women and girls in Poland know all too well: the Government’s deeply misogynistic attitudes are putting them at daily risk of violence, and the dangers they face are getting worse.

“Lack of adequate protections for victims of violence combined with antiquated laws and a culture of victim-blaming and impunity form a combustible mixture.

“Rather than tackling these urgent problems through actions such as adopting a consent-based definition of rape, Polish law makers are threatening to make the country less safe for women and girls.

“Attempts among some parliamentarians to replace the Istanbul Convention with a new ‘family rights’ law that restricts gender equality and LGBTI rights must be fully rejected and a new chapter in woman’s rights must begin.

“It's time to protect survivors of violence and recognise that sex without consent is rape. The Government must adhere to these recommendations and take decisive action to fully implement the convention.”

About the report

The new report from the Group of Experts on Action against Violence against Women and Domestic Violence - which monitors the implementation of the Council of Europe’s Istanbul Convention on preventing and combating violence against women - urges Poland to reform all sexual offences in its penal code to “fully incorporate the notion of freely given consent and to ensure appropriate sanctions for all sexual acts without the consent of the victim”.

The report emphasises the obstacles faced by women in Poland who seek to terminate a pregnancy resulting from rape, despite rape being grounds for lawful recourse to abortion in Poland. Women are confronted by various serious barriers, including in obtaining a certificate from a prosecutor on the suspicion that a pregnancy occurred as a result of a criminal act, and difficulties in accessing information and referral to medical services performing lawful abortions. Such procedures must be introduced and applied, said Amnesty, including when doctors refuse to perform an abortion “on grounds of conscience”.

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