Women’s groups raided in Poland after participating in march for abortion rights

Women march holding umbrellas, a symbol of their protest, through downtown Warsaw on October 3, 2017. The umbrellas read "Enough Hell For Women." (JANEK SKARZYNSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

A day after thousands of Polish woman took to the streets to protest the country’s restrictive abortion laws, police staged raids on women’s groups that had participated in the anti-government demonstration. The recent protest had come on the first anniversary of the famous “Black Monday” march that helped defeat a proposed total ban of abortion in the country that would have allowed women who underwent abortions, and the doctors who performed them, to be jailed for up to five years.

Tuesday’s protests were organized to condemn abortion laws that make abortion illegal in almost all cases, as well as new regulations that require women to get a doctor’s prescription in order to buy the morning-after pill. Prosecutors claimed that it was only a coincidence that two groups involved in the march, the Women’s Rights Center and Baba, were raided a day after the demonstrations. Both groups, which work with victims of domestic abuse, were told that they were looking for evidence into suspected wrongdoing by the former government.

“We are afraid that this is just a pretext or warning signal to not engage in activities not in line with the ruling party,” said the Women’s Rights Center in a statement.

Baba leader Anita Kucharska-Dziedzic said that police had confiscated numerous files from their offices, including some which contained private information on domestic abuse victims. The loss of the files, she said, was directly inhibiting the group’s ongoing work.

“This is an abuse of power,” said Marta Lempart, the head of the Polish Women’s Strike, which organized the protests. “Even if there is any suspicion of wrongdoing, an inquiry could be done in a way that doesn’t affect the organisations’ work.”

Read the full story at The Guardian.


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