Poland to quit treaty on violence against women, minister says

The government says the treaty is disrespectful towards religion and requires teaching liberal social policies in schools

July 26, 2020 06:50 am | Updated 06:51 am IST - WARSAW

A protester holds a banner reading "Belive Victims" as she takes part in a protest against the Polish government plans to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention on prevention and combatting of home violence, in Warsaw, Poland on July 24, 2020.

A protester holds a banner reading "Belive Victims" as she takes part in a protest against the Polish government plans to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention on prevention and combatting of home violence, in Warsaw, Poland on July 24, 2020.

Poland will take steps next week to withdraw from a European treaty on violence against women, which the right-wing cabinet says violates parents' rights by requiring schools to teach children about gender, the justice minister said on Saturday.

Zbigniew Ziobro told a news conference his ministry would submit a request to the labour and families ministry on Monday to begin the process of withdrawing from the treaty, known as the Istanbul Convention.

“It contains elements of an ideological nature, which we consider harmful,” Ziobro said.

Poland's ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party and its coalition partners closely align themselves with the Catholic Church and promote a conservative social agenda. Hostility to gay rights was one of the main issues promoted by President Andrej Duda during a successful re-election campaign this month.

Protesters hold banners reading 'Women's Strike' as they take part in protest against the Polish government plans to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention on prevention and combatting of home violence, in Warsaw, Poland on July 24, 2020.

Protesters hold banners reading "Women's Strike" as they take part in protest against the Polish government plans to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention on prevention and combatting of home violence, in Warsaw, Poland on July 24, 2020.

On Friday, thousands of people, mostly women, protested in Warsaw and other cities against proposals to reject the treaty.

“The aim is to legalise domestic violence,” Marta Lempart, one of the protest organisers said on Friday at a march in Warsaw. Some protesters carried banners saying “PiS is the women's hell”.

PiS has long complained about the Istanbul Convention, which Poland ratified under a previous centrist government in 2015. The government says the treaty is disrespectful towards religion and requires teaching liberal social policies in schools, although in the past it has stopped short of a decision to quit.

Ziobro, the justice minister, represents a smaller right-wing party within the ruling coalition. A government spokesman was not available on Saturday for comment on whether Ziobro's announcement of plans to quit the treaty represented a collective cabinet decision.

The World Health Organization says domestic violence has surged this year in Europe during months of lockdown aimed at fighting the coronavirus.

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