The Polish capital of Warsaw saw huge numbers gathering and protesting , following a government decision to ban abortions last month.
Since this decision on the 22nd October, these protests have only grown, and have been met with other protests around the world in a show of support for Polish women.
One such place that has been showing solidarity is Leicester city. With over 30,000 people making up Leicester’s Polish community, there has been a huge outpouring of support for women back in Poland.
Karolina Ciechanowska, the organiser of the Leicester protest said: “We are here to show our support to all the Polish women back in Poland due to the fact that legislation has changed recently, and the government has banned nearly all legal abortions. So now the only way that women can get abortions is if they have been raped, or if there has been incest in the family. That choice for women has been taken away from them and we just think it’s not fair. This protest has gone global now, and we have organised this one to show that support from this big Polish community in Leicester.”
Last Friday saw a culmination of a whole week of large-scale protests in Poland. There was an estimated 430,000 people in attendance across the country attending more than 400 demonstrations.
These demonstrations were the largest ever since the fall of communism in 1989, amidst concerns that the freedoms that had been won in the post-communist era could be being dismantled by the autocratic Law and Justice Party.
“The whole of Poland is on its knees,” said Karolina. “The whole country is on the streets protesting and it’s global too. Loads of cities in England are doing it and loads of cities all around the world, such as the United States, New Zealand, Australia—anywhere you can find Polish women we are on the street, uniting!”
The Law and Justice Party has targeted many groups and social issues that they believe are a threat to the way of life in Poland. Their initial focus was migrants, which made up a majority of the party’s vitriolic views. They have also focused on the gay community being a threat to the nation, leading to many regions to claim they are “free from LGBT ideologies”.
The President of Poland, Andrzej Duda has claimed he is open to some form of compromise with the protestors. He is currently still recovering from Coronavirus after being diagnosed last week.
However, the apparent leniency and promises of compromise are not shared by all members of the ruling elite in Poland. Deputy Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski fills the role of “controversial and confrontational leader” which is becoming increasingly commonplace in today’s world. He has claimed that last week’s protests were aiming to “destroy Poland and end the history of the Polish nation.” This has been seen by many of his critics as a call to action, or a more of a dog-whistle to those. that may hold “patriotism” in high regard.
Alongside this, the education and science minister, Przemys?aw Czarnek, has told universities that their funding could be cut if they are seen to be encouraging or allowing protests to take place. He claimed their behaviour was “scandalous” after some universities canceled classes, allowing students to attend protests last week.
By Sam Ellison