Protesters slam Kaczynski's comments on women drinking and Poland's near total abortion ban

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By Euronews  with AP
 Protesters take photos of a poster depicting the leader of Poland's Law and Justice party, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, on Monday.
Protesters take photos of a poster depicting the leader of Poland's Law and Justice party, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, on Monday.   -   Copyright  Michal Dyjuk/Copyright 2022 The AP. All rights reserved

Some 300 protesters in Poland rallied in front of the Warsaw home of conservative ruling party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski on Monday, to protest over what they see as contempt towards women and an erosion of their rights.

The demonstrators opposed a near-total ban on abortion pushed by the Law and Justice Party last year, as well as policies that ended state funding of in-vitro fertilisation.

Kaczynski recently blamed the country's low birth rate on women drinking too much alcohol. Protesters called for the 73-year-old politician to step down, saying he is out of touch and does not understand the reasons that make it difficult today for women to decide to have children.

While the alcohol comment angered many at the time, the protest was much smaller than some of the Women's Strike-led demonstrations of past years. It took place on the 104th anniversary of women gaining the right to vote in Poland.

"We are here today to remind you that we will not let go and that we know that things will be normal, that things will be as they should be, that Poland will be a country with freedom, with equality, with democracy," said Marta Lempart, women's rights activist and Women's Strike leader.

"We have voting rights but it is not enough to go to the polls, we want to have the right to decide our role in the family and society. If a woman wants to have children, go ahead, she should be helped to do so and not restricted by in-vitro procedures" she continued.

While protester and mother of two, Jolanta Zjawinska said: "We as women have simply ceased to exist. What is happening when it comes to women's rights is that we have theoretically guaranteed all rights, but we can't make almost any decisions about our bodies. A categorical and absolute ban on abortion has been introduced."

Women's Strike says there are many reasons for the country's low birth rate, including Poland's de facto prohibition of abortion, a lack of general access to sexual education and in-vitro procedures, high inflation, a housing shortage and a lack of access to daycare centres.

However, Kaczynski said at a news conference ahead of the protest that he didn't understand why the protesters chose to demonstrate in front of his home since "I have always been a supporter of full equality for women".