Poland set to quit Istanbul Convention on violence against women

Poland should reject a European treaty to combat violence against women as some elements of it go against the country’s constitutional values, a government official said on Saturday.

Poland ratified the Council of Europe’s Istanbul Convention preventing violence against women in 2015 under the former, centrist government, however the ruling conservative Law and Justice party, which came to power five years ago pledging to defend traditional family values, has signalled that Warsaw may now quit the treaty.

Poland’s Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro (pictured above) is expected to hold a press conference on the convention, which states that traditions, culture or religion cannot be used as a justification for acts of violence against women.

It comes as calls to domestic violence hotlines in Europe rose as much as three-fifths as alcohol and drug abuse combine with close confinement in coronavirus lockdowns to fuel abuse of the most vulnerable, according to the World Health Organization.

“The convention includes a dangerous ideological layer, which is contrary to Polish constitutional order,” said Janusz Kowalski, a deputy state assets minister. He did not provide details.

Kowalski said that in the opinion of his party and the Justice Ministry, “the Istanbul Convention has to be denounced."

His comments echo views expressed by other government officials earlier this month that Poland should take steps to quit the convention.

On Friday evening thousands of people, mostly women, protested in Warsaw and other cities in Poland against the government’s plans.

Six other EU member states have not ratified the convention, including Hungary and Bulgaria.

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