Poland to withdraw from EU Convention fighting violence against women
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Poland to withdraw from EU Convention fighting violence against women

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Poland will leave the Istanbul Convention, with the planned withdrawal starting on Monday after Minister of Justice Zbigniew Ziobro called the convention “harmful.”

The Istanbul Convention is the world’s first joint binding effort to fight and prevent violence aimed specifically at women, ranging from domestic violence to marital rape and female genital mutilation. It was initiated by the Council of Europe in 2011, and was ratified by eight EU Member States in total.

Poland would be the first country to denounce the Convention. In 2015, when the agreement was ratified in Poland, Ziobro called the Convention “an invention, a feminist creation aimed at justifying gay ideology.”

Ziobro wishes to ban the Convention soon, saying “it contains elements of an ideological nature, which we consider harmful,” because it would require schoolchildren to be taught on the concept of gender.

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Poland’s President Andrzej Duda, who heads the right-wing PíS-party that Ziobro is a member of, called the promotion of LGBT-rights an “ideology” more destructive than communism during his election campaign earlier this year. The PíS is a conservative party with strong Catholic values which initiated a ban on adoption by same-sex couples earlier this month.

The announcement of the planned withdrawal was met with protests in Poland over the weekend. One protest organiser, Magdalena Lempart, told Reuters that the aim of banning the Convention is to “legalise domestic violence.”

The Council of Europe’s Secretary-General, Marija Pejčinović Burić, stated on Sunday that the withdrawal is “alarming”, saying that it “would be highly regrettable and a major step backwards in the protection of women against violence in Europe.”

When Poland proceeds with the withdrawal, the Secretary-General announced that the EU is ready to hold “a constructive dialogue” on the Convention, which Pejčinović Burić calls a “key international treaty to combat violence against women”.

Amée Zoutberg
The Brussels Times

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