Poland faces 'consequences' if exits women's rights treaty

Clay Curtis
July 30, 2020

Poland's Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro is expected to hold a press conference later on the convention, which states that traditions, culture or religion can not be used as a justification for acts of violence against women.

Ziobro, who represents a smaller right-wing party, within the ruling coalition along with the Law and Justice party (PiS), supported that the country has sufficient legal tools to protect victims of domestic violence, and that the anti-violence treaty signed by Poland in 2015, violates parent's rights, by requiring schools to teach children about gender from a sociological point of view.

"Council of Europe Secretary General Marija Pejcinovic Buric has stated Poland's goals to take away from the conference have been" jagged" and invited that a" constructive dialogue" to describe some misunderstandings.

"Leaving the Istanbul Convention would be highly regrettable and a major step backwards in the protection of women against violence in Europe", she said in a statement.

Poland's Ministry of Justice has sent a request to the Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Policy to undertake the necessary work to withdraw from the Council of Europe's so-called Istanbul Convention on combatting domestic violence.

As the first global instrument to set comprehensive and legally binding standards to prevent gender-based violence, protect victims, and punish perpetrators, it characterizes violence against women as a violation of human rights and a form of discrimination.

He added that it would "continue its efforts to finalise the EU's accession" to the convention by ratifying it, having signed the pact in 2017. Several members of the European Parliament also lambasted the Polish government for this initiative.

"I stand with Polish citizens taking (to) the streets to demand respect for women's rights", he tweeted.

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The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe said Monday that Poland's proposed move was "reason for serious concern".

Politicians from across Europe criticized the decision too.

Irish centre-right MEP Frances Fitzgerald said it was now essential for the whole of the European Union to ratify the convention "so that no woman is left unprotected and vulnerable to violence".

However, the bulk of criticism has come from citizens of Poland, and protests have been cropping up in cities across Poland.

Although the treaty does not explicitly mention gay marriage, that has not diminished the backlash in conservative Poland, Hungary and Slovakia.

The European Union on Sunday was informed Poland is planning to withraw its signature from the common domestic violence treaty.

The demonstrations also reflect rising anger in Turkey at the growing number of women killed, including the murder of university student Pinar Gultekin this month.

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