Thousands of women go on strike in Poland to protect their rights [IMAGES]

Tilly Grove

Women in Poland held an all-out strike on 3 October in response to proposed abortion legislation that would completely outlaw the procedure.

Currently, abortion is permitted in circumstances where the life of the foetus is threatened, there is a grave threat to the mother, or the pregnancy was caused by rape or incest. But if the new act is passed, all abortion will be criminalised. Women who have terminations could face prison sentences of up to five years, and doctors found to have assisted a termination could also face jail.

‘Black Monday’

For many women in the country, this is a restriction too far. There’s also a concern that the new rules may place women who suffer miscarriages under suspicion. Poland is a predominantly Catholic country, but as reproductive rights activist Krystyna Kacpura described in The Guardian last month:

even Catholic women are appalled at the move by the Law and Justice party to restrict our already limited reproductive rights. “Not one step further,” goes the rallying cry.

In response, pro-choice activists called for all women in the country to strike. The day has been called ‘Black Monday’ or the ‘black protest’ because activists say they are in mourning for their reproductive rights. Many are wearing black to signify this.

Initial reports on 3 October suggested that some businesses had closed to let their female employees participate. The city hall in Częstochowa, reportedly one of the most Catholic cities in Poland, reported that 60% of women had not turned up to work.

On the streets

Events took place around the country, and Polish women and journalists were sharing photographs and videos from the streets on Twitter (using hashtags related to the protest):

So far, thousands are thought to have joined the protests. And there have also been solidarity protests across Europe, from Berlin to Helsinki.

Where did it come from?

The proposal for the ban originated with a conservative advocacy group called Ordo Iuris, and was submitted to the government by the Stop Abortion coalition as a “citizen’s initiative”. Because the petition reached over 100,000 signatures, it had to be considered by Poland’s parliament.

Because many people in Poland are religious, support for restrictions on abortion is high – as many as 74% reportedly support the legislation as it stands. But according to a poll by Ipsos, 50% of citizens support the Black Monday strike. And judging from photographs on Twitter, more than a few of them were out on the streets.

The legislation is still being considered for now, but whatever the eventual outcome, Polish women achieved something admirable on 3 October, showing that you don’t have to take injustice sitting down.

Get Involved!

– Sign the open letter in solidarity with Polish women.

Featured image via Twitter

We need your help ...

The coronavirus pandemic is changing our world, fast. And we will do all we can to keep bringing you news and analysis throughout. But we are worried about maintaining enough income to pay our staff and minimal overheads.

Now, more than ever, we need a vibrant, independent media that holds the government to account and calls it out when it puts vested economic interests above human lives. We need a media that shows solidarity with the people most affected by the crisis – and one that can help to build a world based on collaboration and compassion.

We have been fighting against an establishment that is trying to shut us down. And like most independent media, we don’t have the deep pockets of investors to call on to bail us out.

Can you help by chipping in a few pounds each month?

The Canary Support us

Comments are closed