3 years ago, we were marching in Warsaw

Feminist strike in Geneva, June 14th 2020 Photo credits: Iloné Adoboli

3 years ago, we were marching in Warsaw1.

Despite the flowers on the posters2, the atmosphere was heavy on that foggy 8th of March.

Indeed, a few months before, the Polish government had attempted to outlaw abortion under almost all circumstances3. The authorities finally backpedaled, after two days of massive protests across the country4.

We, a joyful and noisy group of international students, were unable to grasp the symbolic significance of these 8th March demonstrations back then. Neither did we want to take the words of militants of the Komitet Obrony Demokracji too seriously. They had warned us about the fragility of democracy, and how the party in power, PiS, was putting it jeopardy.

Three years later, we have grown up. Started reading critical theories. Slowly initiated militating for causes we deem just. The Polish constitutional tribunal, however, issued a ruling, virtually banning abortion5. That very same institution has been criticized as an instrument for the PiS to push its political agenda6.

The judiciary decision prompted an almost unprecedented reaction from civil society, leading the government to delay abortion ban7. « ‘There is a discussion going on, and it would be good to take some time for dialogue and for finding a new position in this situation, which is difficult and stirs high emotions,’ Michał Dworczyk, the head of the prime minister’s office, told Polish media on Tuesday. »8

Can collective power triumph?
3 years ago, we were marching in Warsaw. Don’t take rights for granted.


Notes and references:

1. Study trip of the University of Geneva’s Political Science and International Relations Students Association (Aespri)

2. The symbol of the 8th March 2017 was a tulip turning into a bird on a black background

3. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/oct/02/women-to-go-on-strike-in-poland-abortion-law

4. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-poland-abortion-idUSKCN1260Q0
https://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/07/world/europe/poland-abortion-law-protests.html

5. On October, 22nd 2020, Poland’s Supreme court ruled that abortion due to foetal defects was unconstitutional. The latter represented one of the last possibilities to legally resort to abortion, together with: a threat to the life of the foetus, a grave threat to the life of the mother and a pregnancy resulting from rape or incest case.
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/22/world/europe/poland-tribunal-abortions.html

6. https://www.lemonde.fr/international/article/2020/05/14/le-pouvoir-polonais-s-apprete-a-prendre-le-controle-de-la-cour-supreme_6039623_3210.html

7. https://www.ft.com/content/7565aa0e-d455-4a6a-bd87-942a2784a871

8. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/nov/03/poland-stalls-abortion-ban-amid-nationwide-protests

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