Poland to withdraw from treaty aimed at ending violence against women

Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro had previously called the treaty to protect women, 'an invention, a feminist creation aimed at justifying gay ideology'.

Women wearing facemarks gather while holding protest signs

The Council of Europe have shared their alarm over the decision made by Poland to exit a landmark international treaty aimed at preventing violence against women.

The object of the treaty, the Istanbul Convention, is to protect women against all forms of violence, including domestic violence, marital rape and female genital mutilation, however, Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro has announced that Poland is in the process of withdrawing.

Ziobro yesterday stated to the press that the treaty, “contains elements of an ideological nature, which we consider harmful”. The treaty had been signed into law in 2012 by a previous centrist government. When it was ratified in 2015, Ziobro had dismissed it as “an invention, a feminist creation aimed at justifying gay ideology”.

Ziobro’s outlook sounds similar to that of Andrzej Duda, the recently re-elected President who ran an openly homophobic campaign, during which he stated, “LGBT is not people, it’s an ideology.”

The treaty makes no mention of the LGBT+ community, yet Law and Justice (PiS), the ruling Polish party, say it violates the rights of parents and is disrespectful towards religion as it asks schools to teach children about gender. The treaty in fact calls for schools to teach “equality between women and men, non-stereotyped gender roles, mutual respect, non-violent conflict resolution in interpersonal relationships, gender-based violence against women and the right to personal integrity”.

Around 2000 people marched in Warsaw over the weekend to protest the country’s plan to withdraw, with one of the organisers, Marta Lempart, sharing, “The aim is to legalise domestic violence”.

The Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Marija Pejčinović Burić, also called out the decision, stating, “Leaving the Istanbul convention would be highly regrettable and a major step backwards in the protection of women against violence in Europe.”

The European Commission have previously produced a document countering misconceptions about the treaty which elaborates, “There is no threat to the concept of family. The convention does not regulate family life or structures and states do not have to change the traditional understanding of families.

“Traditions and values are not under threat. The convention only states that traditions, culture or religion cannot be used as a justification for acts of violence against women.

“The word ‘gender’ does not replace the terms ‘women’ and ‘men’, nor does the convention promote any ‘gender ideology’. The word ‘gender’ is used in the convention to emphasise that women are more likely to experience violence because they are women.”

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