Poland’s progressive step forwards gender equality – Lennart Salek, Germany

It happens every day. No matter what social class or domestic violence. It is one of the biggest problems of the 21th century. The victims of such violence, commonly females, often cannot defend themselves. In some countries, they do not even have any rights in their state’s legislation. A convention passed by the Council of Europe’s legislation on preventing and combating violence and domestic violence against women has not yet been ratified by The Republic of Poland.  Answers to “why not?” can be found in its history and society. Poland's progressive picture 1 Only 19% of the Polish women admit that they have been harmed by their husbands, but a significantly higher amount estimated to be around 30-40% is suspected. On a daily basis, they get mistreated physically– beaten and slapped by their husbands and father-in-laws. Often these men are also drunk, and afterwards, they promise to change. However, the wives are further humiliated and emotionally abused. A lot of women cannot leave their aggressive husbands, because a divorce is still against the doctrine of the Catholic church, which 87% of the Polish population belongs to. Furthermore, many mothers fear losing their children to their fathers. Unfortunately, a lot of women have scruples about asking for help because domestic violence is still a taboo subject in the modern Polish society. Often, the victims are blamed for the violence committed against them and are told that they “deserved” it since a decent woman would not get beaten by her husband, as explained by “Fiminoteka”, one of Poland’s leading feminist information services. Furthermore, relatives tend to lie in front of the police or in hospitals by saying, for example, that the injuries were caused by a fall, in order to save their reputation. There is insufficient help and assistance provided by the government. There are some subsidies for women refugees and drop-in centers, but there is nearly not enough and the biggest problem is that the time limit to take  refuge in one of these institutions is a measly six months. Afterwards, they have to leave and because of that, their lives are in danger. Additionally, there is hardly any help in the countryside, where almost 40% of the Polish population lives. poland's progressive picture 2 The Istanbul Convention promotes equality among genders in the legislation and the repealing of every law that discriminates against women. The Catholic church offers resistance to it since it wants to remain in power. Even though the Republic of Poland is secularized, the church still exerts influence on Poland’s politics. The Catholic church pleads for the maintenance of the traditional gender roles, while the Istanbul Convention also strengthens LGBT inclusive laws. While “PiS” (abbreviation of “Law and Justice”), the conservative party of former prime minister Jarosław Kaczyński, is trying to stop the ratification, liberal parties and feminist organizations demand the convention come into force. It is clear that Poland still has a long way to go, since many campaigns and different measures will be needed to change the mindset of the Polish society.

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