The protests are part of what has become Poland’s largest protest movement since the fall of communism in the country 30 years ago. A October 22 ruling by the Polish Constitutional Court banning abortion of fetuses with birth defects, even when the fetus has no chance of survival at birth, sparked protests.
At one point, protest participants gathered on a main thoroughfare, causing traffic to decline. As the drivers honked their horns, the demonstrators shouted, “We are sorry for the inconvenience, we have a government to overthrow. ”
Police warned that the protest was illegal because it had not been recorded in advance. He also violated a pandemic ban on large gatherings.
“We have the right to protest,” chanted the participants.
At one point, police officers used tear gas against opposition lawmaker Barbara Nowacka, who had intervened “to defend women who were protesting peacefully,” said Borys Budka, leader of the centrist Civic Platform party. Poland.
The demonstrators in the capital began their demonstration by symbolically “renaming” a square in the city center as the Roundabout for Women’s Rights. An activist climbed a ladder placed on a van to hang a new road sign above the official one indicating the Roman Dmowski roundabout.
Women’s rights activists want authorities to formally approve the name change. They say it would honor an equality movement rather than Dmowski, a statesman who played a key role in helping Poland regain national independence in 1918, but was also an anti-Semite.
Protests in Krakow, Gdansk and other cities were organized on Saturday to celebrate the access of Polish women to the right to vote 102 years ago. The events were planned under the slogan “In the name of mother, daughter, sister”.
A mother of two teenage daughters in Warsaw held a sign saying: “I am here for my daughters”.
Poland already had one of the most restrictive laws in Europe, negotiated in the early 1990s between the political and Catholic leaders of the Church whose authority was reinforced by the presence of a Polish pope, John Paul. II, in the Vatican. This 27-year-old law only allows abortion in cases of fetal malformations, risk to a woman’s health, and incest or rape.
Amid mass protests, the government has failed to implement the court ruling, a tactical victory so far for the women’s strike, the movement that staged the protests that have brought in hundreds of thousands of people. on the streets of hundreds of cities in recent weeks.
Activists seek to keep the pressure on while demanding a more liberal abortion law and the resignation of the country’s right-wing government.
Some protesters carried rainbow flags in protest against conservative authorities who have also targeted LGBT people with hostile rhetoric.
Many carried signs with the movement’s logo, the silhouette of a suffragist with a red lightning bolt and the words “Strajk Kobiet” – or Women’s Strike.
Saturday’s protest included calls to end police violence after police used tear gas and other types of force against protesters earlier this month.