An “ideology” harmful to whom?

I knew not but the next

would be my final inch

Emily Dickinson

Each year in Poland nearly 500 women are murdered by men.

During lockdown, calls made by Polish women and girls to domestic abuse helplines increased by 50%. Stories emerged of women being refused help by the police, and families evicted from their homes by landlords due to ‘domestic disturbances’, despite the pandemic.

It is unsurprising, although wholly immoral, that earlier this week the Polish Government announced their intention to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention; a treaty that aims not just to protect women and girls from gender based violence, but to eradicate it.

Over the past few years the assault on women’s rights have become more frequent, framed as part of the “family values” ideology, which in truth is about the erosion of women’s rights and eradication of the LGBT community.

The Justice Minister justified the decision to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention by alleging it contains ‘elements of an ideological nature, which we consider harmful.”

The question is harmful to whom is?

The government? The Catholic Church?

And yet we know that it is their governmental and religious patriarchal ideology that is harmful to women and the LGBT community.

A recent Bill passed by the Polish Government in March this year ensured “offenders” (note the wording) of violence could be removed from the home or surroundings for 14 days.

Marcin Romanowski, Undersecretary of State at the Justice Ministry went even further and claimed that the new law will result in Poland joining “the group of countries in which victims of domestic violence receive the best protection.”

He didn’t mention that it had taken five years to pass the bill (sound familiar UK?) and that there were plans to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention.

Adam Bodnar, Poland’s Human Rights Commissioner asked Marlena Maląg, Minister for Family, Labour and Social Policy to consider the impact of COVID-19 lockdown on domestic abuse victims, whilst also presenting a series of potential measures. His plea was never acknowledged, never mind actioned.

Across the world we are seeing a lurch to the right as Governments led by the Masters of Misogyny, Andrzej Duda, Putin, Trump, Johnson brag about their macho policies. Policies made by men, for men.

Make no mistake this is a power grab!

So let’s stop this NOW because this is a matter of life or death for many women and girls.

N.B. At the time of writing the UK Parliament has still not ratified the Istanbul Convention.

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Julie Ann Richards

Radical Feminist, Mam, Cymraes, heart always rules head, Trustee — Fair Treatment of Women in Wales, domestic abuse survivor — views are my own