Women’s rights are a fundamental human right!
The position of the National Council of the Polish Green Party on the termination of the Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence
Description of the Situation
Following the declaration of the Government of the Republic of Poland of the intention to terminate the Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, the National Council of the Polish Green Party strongly protests against any further steps in this direction. The Istanbul Convention deals with the prevention of violence against women and providing gender equality. It is in the best interest of all Polish women and men to implement it, and not to systematically, or even systemically, ignore the problems the document addresses. In turn, the desire to denounce the Convention is a manifestation of ignorance, which is in fact an expression of consent to further violence. Let us add that gender-based violence is a brutal form of discrimination and a violation of fundamental rights. It is both a cause and a consequence of inequality between women and men. There are no shades of gray in such drastic areas of life. Passivity and consent lead us to taking the side of the torturers, not the victims.
The Situation in Poland
It is time to introduce effective actions against violence against women in Poland. According to research conducted by Ster Foundation in 2015, 87% of women have suffered from some form of sexual harassment. 62% took part in non-consensual sexual activities. Every fifth woman in Poland has experienced rape and most of them were raped by someone close: a partner (22%) or ex-partner (63%) in their own homes (55%). 95% of women do not tell anyone about their experiences nor do they report the case to the police or a prosecution officer, which is proof that there is extreme lack of trust in public institutions. The Coronavirus pandemic has made the situation even worse. According to the Centre for Women’s Rights (Centrum Praw Kobiet), staying under the same roof without respite, compulsory social isolation, the exacerbated financial situation of many families, and the stress that accompanies this process have caused increased aggression and violence. In the case of families where violence was present before, it has often escalated during the pandemic. It is crucial that especially now the Polish government focus on implementing the anti-violence convention, not on abandoning it.
The Situation in Europe
None of us can state with any certainty that this kind of violence does not concern him or her. Not even in the European Union, which is founded on a basis of fundamental human rights and methodically advocates such ideals. According to data gathered in 2016, one in three women in the European Union were victims of physical and/or sexual violence after reaching the age of 15. One in 20 women were raped. More than half (55%) experienced sexual harassment. One in three women experienced psychological abuse at the hands of their partner. One in three experienced physical or sexual abuse at the hands of an adult during their childhood. One in ten were harassed on the Internet. Women are not always able to face these situations on their own. The vast majority of violence against women never reaches the relevant law enforcement authorities. Only 30% of victims of the most serious incidents report them. Shame, the desire to forget the incident or lack of trust in the police are the most common reasons for remaining silent.
Postulates of the Polish Green Party
The Polish Green Party has always supported the tools proposed by the Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, such as:
- access to reliable information for victims of violence
- access to a sufficient quantity of places in shelters throughout the country
- the possibility of reaching a telephone hotline providing help 24/7
- the creation of specialized help centers providing immediate medical advice, care and forensic advice
- the possibility of removing the perpetrator of domestic violence from his home through police intervention
- the criminalization of violence against women, including mental, physical and sexual violence, persecutions, forced abortion and sterilization
- ensuring effectiveness and efficient investigation regarding any allegations concerning violence against women and domestic abuse, and providing immediate victim protection
- ensuring protection and support for minors – witnesses of violence
- the promotion of public awareness through educational campaigns about different forms of violence regularly experienced by women as well as about manifestations of domestic abuse.
Appeal to the Polish Government – Implement the Convention!
The Istanbul Convention refers to combating violence against women, not intefering with the tradition of the countries that have signed it. The measures proposed by the Convention aim primarily to prevent violence, protect victims and prosecute the perpetrators.
Domestic violence continues to be violence. It is a crime, not a private matter. Turning a blind eye and the prevalent taboo around domestic violence allows for its further existence. All of us, including women, have the right to safety and freedom from fear anywhere we are. Above all, within our own homes.
Violence is not a justifiable part of any culture. It is also not a part of being Polish. We do not want to be such Polish men and women. We cannot allow the stereotype to persist that gender-based violence is a private issue under the thin veil of the supposed protection of traditional Polish families. Women are harassed, raped, harmed, beaten and even murdered in their homes. Not by their partners, but by perpetrators. This must end. The best way to achieve this is to effectively implement the Istanbul Convention on combating violence against women and domestic violence, and not to denounce it.