In Poland, fifth day of women’s mobilization for the right to abortion

Several thousand people demonstrated against a decision further restricting access to abortion, in central Warsaw, on October 26.

At 4 p.m. on Monday October 26, Jerusalem Avenue, Warsaw’s main thoroughfare, turned into a huge traffic jam and a continuous concert of horns. Trams and buses piled empty for several hundred yards, as every major roundabout and intersection in the city saw gatherings ranging from a handful to several thousand people. The start of a chaotic evening that will end late at night, not without significant tensions.

For the fifth day in a row, Poland lives to the rhythm of women’s anger, after the Constitutional Court, tightly controlled by the national-conservative power of PiS (Law and Justice), declared abortion due to fetal malformation , even “Serious and irreversible”, as unconstitutional, de facto delegating voluntary termination of pregnancy (abortion) in the country. An anger that has taken in recent days, despite the health restrictions linked to the pandemic due to the coronavirus, of unprecedented proportions and character.

Article reserved for our subscribers Read also In Poland, abortion becomes almost illegal after a court ruling

This Monday, it’s time to block the city by all means: by car, by bike, sitting or lying on a pedestrian crossing, to the rhythm of the drums and drowned in red smoke. Like the capital, the whole country is thus paralyzed. Because the slogan is national, unambiguous, widely relayed on social networks and in feminist circles: ” It’s the war. ” The program is just as clear: Wednesday, general strike, Friday, demonstration in the capital of women from all over the country.

The crowd is predominantly young and chants particularly violent anticlerical and anti-government slogans. “Our violence and our vulgarity are assumed and up to the nightmare that the future holds in store for us”, indignant Karolina Wozniak, a 24-year-old student. On his mask and his face are drawn red lightning bolts, which have become a symbol of this anger. Graffiti has appeared in abundance on the city’s walls and sidewalks. Red lightning and feminist slogans are inscribed in the landscape, clothes, posters, on the windows of apartments and cars.

Protesters block traffic and wave a red lightning bolt flag, which has become the symbol of women's anger, in Warsaw on October 26.

Cultural war

“I dreamed that I was getting pregnant in Poland. It was a nightmare ”, can we read on one of the many banners. “I think, I feel, I decide” ; “Freedom, equality, right to abort” ; “The PiS and the Church have blood on their hands”. The crowd gathers and walks towards the Constitutional Court, an institution whose legitimacy is contested by the overwhelming majority of jurists. “I’m here because I think about my daughter, says 49-year-old Katarzyna Golaszewska. I am Catholic and for conscientious choice in the most drastic cases. We are in Europe, in the XXIe century. We just want to live like normal Europeans. “

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