PES Women expresses solidarity with women in Poland

27/07/2020

poland women rights 2020

A protester in Warsaw holds a banner reading "Belive Victims" as she takes part in a protest on July 24 against the Polish government plans to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention on prevention and combatting of home violence.  Photo: AFP

PES Women is deeply worried by the latest move of the Polish ruling party Law and Justice (PiS) and its coalition partners who have announced their intention to withdraw Poland from the Istanbul Convention.

The treaty is currently the most advanced, comprehensive and effective international legal instrument for preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence.

The Istanbul Convention, which was adopted by the Council of Europe in 2011, was ratified by Poland in 2015. The Polish government intend to start the procedure of withdrawing from the treaty today.

Zita Gurmai, President of PES Women, said:

“The Istanbul Convention has led to higher protection standards in Europe and raised awareness on the topic of gender-based violence across Europe. Withdrawing from the convention rolls back the level of women’s rights in Poland.”

The Polish plan to withdraw from the convention comes after the Covid-19 lockdown, which has seen women more exposed to gender-based violence. Indeed, figures from several Member States have shown that the number of cases of violence against women has risen significantly during the lockdown, although femicides do not count into the official death statistics of COVID-19.

Now conservative forces across Europe are using the pandemic to step back from the issue of women’s rights and human rights.

“Let’s be clear - Poland can try to escape from the Istanbul Convention but is still bound by EU treaties and EU policies, and basic human decency. Therefore, the Polish government has the legal and moral obligation to protect women and children from gender-based violence through legislation and practical measures on victims' rights”, PES Women President Zita Gurmai added.

It is high time for Europe to better coordinate on this highly political subject. The European Parliament has a Committee dedicated to Women's Rights and Gender Equality, chaired by social democratic leader Evelyn Regner. The European Commission has a commissioner dedicated to Equality - Helena Dalli from Malta's Partit Laburista. However, the European Council is lagging behind. We call on the European institutions to urgently discuss the topic of the violence against women and the issue of Poland’s withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention.

PES Women stands in solidarity with Polish women who are protesting on the streets of multiple cities across Poland, fighting for their rights.