Thousands of people in Warsaw and some other cities in Poland protested Friday against plans by the conservative government to withdraw from Europe’s Istanbul Convention against domestic violence and violence against women and children. Carrying signs of the "Women’s Strike" rights movement, they chanted "Fight against the virus not against women" as they marched through downtown Warsaw, the AP reports. They rallied in front of the offices of a Roman Catholic organization of lawyers, Ordo Iuris, that is pushing for the withdrawal. They said Ordo Iuris members are fundamentalists. Protests were also held in Wroclaw, Czestochowa, and other cities. The government has recently signaled that it plans to leave the convention that was ratified by the previous, liberal administration in 2015.
The government and other critics contend the convention goes against Poland’s constitution and Roman Catholic family traditions and say it is wrong to link religion to violence against women. Liberal opposition parties support the convention. The Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence is based on the premise that women are targeted with violence just because they are women. It states that men and women have equal rights and obliges state authorities to take steps to prevent violence against women, protect the victims, and prosecute the perpetrators. One of the provisions that raised questions by Poland's government says that neither culture, custom, religion, tradition, or so-called "honour" can justify violence.