People in Leicester stood in solidarity with Polish women this weekend following record-breaking pro-choice protests in Warsaw.
Strajk Kobiet (Women’s strike) Leicester held a peaceful demonstration in Humberstone Gate on Sunday (NOV1) to protest against the tightening restrictions around abortion in Poland.
Poland was already one of the European countries with stricter regulations around abortion, but it is now nearly impossible for Polish women to get safe pregnancy terminations.
The October 22 Polish Supreme Court ruling only allows abortions in cases of abuse/incest or if the pregnancy represents a major life threat to the mother-to-be, considering any other reason “unconstitutional”.
Naturally, this decision sparked protests not only across Poland, but around the world.
Karolina Ciechanowska, 36, organiser of the Strajk Kobiet Leicester protest, said : “We feel like we need to unite with our friends and families in Poland, we want to show the women back there that even though we left, our hearts are with them.
“We want to spread the word and bring awareness to the fact that women in Poland still have to fight for their rights in the 21st century.
“This is not only a fight for abortion, it is a struggle for free will and for the right to have a choice,” she continued.
After the political party Law and Justice (PiS) took power in Poland, the fight for equality and progress became more urgent.
First, the world witnessed the persecution of LGBTQ+ communities. Now, the Polish government is threatening women’s rights.
For that reason, Strajk Kobiet, a now global movement, has gained popularity as it strives for equality and respect for all people in Poland.
One of the speakers in Leicester, Olga Rozanska, 21, underlined similar sentiments. In her speech, she talked about how this Supreme Court ruling threatens women’s well-being and expressed how it moved her.
“This decision is not ‘pro-life’. This manipulation will cause financial, physical and mental problems.
“I saw women all over the world standing up and uniting, so I felt like if I can’t go home I will show support from here.
“I really do believe in this cause. This is not only about Polish women. It is about all women and our fight against this patriarchal society.”
However, during that time there were speeches and music, both in Polish and English. The turnout was good and diverse: young adults, children, parents, Polish, English, and many more. The efforts from the organisation, the police and the participants made it a safe, peaceful and emotional event.
“The demonstration itself went very well,” said Karolina.
“We had masks to give away if people forgot theirs, we made sure that everyone, as much as possible, was socially distanced and encouraged people to download the NHS Track and Trace app.”
If you would like to know more about the movement click here.