Monday, the 3rd of October, was marked "Black Monday" in Poland. Women from all over the country went on a nationwide, general strike to oppose a new proposed anti-abortion law. The new law would make abortions illegal in the country – with women who have an abortion and doctors facilitating the procedure facing up to five years in prison.
Severalprotests have taken place all over the country over the last few weeks but yesterday Polish women took it one step further by skipping work or school, dressing in black and coming together to demand their right to use their body as they wish. We asked a few of them to explain their motivation to strike.
Joanna: "I’m on strike because I’m a woman and they’re trampling on my dignity. I thought I lived in a free country, where they observe fundamental human rights. The planned changes to the law will condemn women and their loved ones to humiliating procedures – it could even put their lives in danger. All of that – just because of political games and some hypocritical Catholic morality."
Alicja: "I don’t feel safe in Poland anymore. I’ve lived much of my adult life in liberal Denmark and I couldn’t imagine that coming back to Poland would mean losing my freedom. But that’s what we’re headed for."
Areta: "I won’t be silenced. What’s happening right now shouldn't take place in any civilised country – we can’t pretend that there’s no problem. And we can’t pretend that an individual voice doesn’t count, either – if individuals come together, they can be powerful."
Anna: "I’m on strike because this law is another display of women being stigmatized. The new bill is based on a medieval idea that women are evil by nature and have nothing but murder on their minds."
Milena: "Just like Kathleen Hanna sings in The Julie Ruin song – I Decide. About my life, my health, myself. I protest on behalf of all the women and men I love, my friends, my colleagues and people I don’t know. I protest even harder for people who remain silent and for the staunch religious fanatics. I feel like I’m going to war against radicalism and stupidity."
Anna: "I am a doctor and I find it inconceivable that women would lose their right to prenatal testing. Medically, this would mean a return to the Dark Ages."
Aga: "I’m furious. For years politicians and the Church have tampered with the very basic rights of women, like we’re second-class citizens, like it’s okay to restrict and manipulate us at will. I refuse to let them use us and our bodies like that. My whole life, I’ve watched things get worse and worse. Instead of more freedom, we get more oppression."
Aniela: "I don’t want to live in a country where the government sticks its nose in my pants, doesn’t respect me and takes away my right to decide when it comes to my life and my body. The so-called pro-life people are only pro-life until you’re born – the moment you leave your mother’s womb, you’re on your own."
Malwina: "Everyone should have the right to decide about their own body, that’s why I’m on strike."
Aga: "We need to take matters into our own hands. When thousands of pissed-off women decide to unite – you have a ticking time bomb that might go off at any moment. I’m fighting for our freedom and our future today."