Defend the Defenders is taking action in support of women’s rights defenders in Poland who face violence from law enforcement and far-right groups, as well as smear campaigns in state-controlled media and excessive criminal charges, which were orchestrated and encouraged by the government.
They are sharing their stories (one per day) with the aim of raising awareness of the struggle and resilience of women’s rights defenders and promote crowdfunding to support them on the ground.
Nadia is one of the women they are supporting whose story they have shared:
Nadia became involved in the Women’s Strike movement in November 2020. As well as participating in Warsaw protests, she is also a member of the Consultative Council at the Women’s Strike, where she moderates the substantive work of the workers’ rights team. The activist is not afraid of public appearances and performs them well. She is confident and attractive so has inevitably become the target of visceral personal attacks online. She has been dubbed a “Julka”; a new buzzword coined by the opposition to express contempt and to silence young women who hold progressive views. Especially those with the courage to take a stand. “Young women should speak out in public because it is valuable and brings a lot of freshness to the discourse,” she says.
Nadia was immediately pounced upon by the right-wing internet. She began speaking publicly on behalf of the Women’s Strike at the end of 2020, which was one of the most emotionally difficult moments of her life. “I started getting daily threats, challenges and insults. On private communication channels like Facebook, Instagram and later also by email. People were publicly wishing me dead or calling me stupid, inhuman or a killer of unborn babies. I have also been told that I deserve to be raped and my family has been threatened,” the activist says.
Nadia has also faced unrelenting violent behaviour, sexism and sexual discrimination. There were racist references to her looks, background and name, as according to some commentators it doesn’t sound “Polish enough”. A torrent of abuse descended upon her after two of her biggest interviews: “I am trained in artistic gymnastics. Someone found pictures of me from the past and annotated them with sexist comments.”
Under the defamatory articles referencing my statements on reproductive rights, there were a huge number of criminal threats.
Since February this year, Nadia has regularly received emails containing death threats towards her and her family as a consequence of her activities in the Women’s Strike such as: “You whore, you will soon die if you don’t stop supporting the Women’s Strike” and “Only God decides the fate of a child”. One message was accompanied by an altered photo of Nadia – a portrait at gunpoint with the caption “Die. Rape and death to you from us, the community of defenders of faith and Catholicism, with God on their lips. Abortion is murder. We do not support it, so we will murder you.”… The threat is very real, especially since activists in Poland cannot count on the help and protection of the police.
However, it ends on a very positive note. She stresses that she is carried away by the feeling that she is part of a unique social movement. A movement that has inspired women from all over Poland and even the world. Hundreds of cities across the country held protests in defence of the right to abortion and against the current government. Demonstrations were organised even in the smallest towns.
The level of social mobilisation came as a great surprise to her: “The protests spanned all social classes. I want to be part of a movement to create a better reality.” When asked what has the most supportive effect on her, Nadia answers without hesitation: “Words of appreciation. Because they make me feel that I am doing something worthwhile. That despite repression, threats, blackmail and insults, there are people out there who need the Women’s Strike. There is hope for a better future for women.”
SOLIDARITY REQUEST: If you are able to provide a donation for legal aid for women like Nadia, please go to this website (in English) to donate.
SOURCE: Defend the defenders. Stories by Dominika Kasprowicz. English version edited by Dearbhla Crosse.
18 June 2021
JAPAN SOLIDARITY REQUEST
PETITION:We demand that JAPAN abolish the male permission requirement for abortion care!
My body is not yours to control!
Kajiya Kazane started this petition to the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, Japan
We demand that Japan abolish the law that deprives women of bodily autonomy and forces them to continue unwanted pregnancies and give birth against their will.
Japan is one of only 12 countries in the world where pregnant women need to seek “permission” from their husband, which means Japanese women cannot make their own decision to terminate a pregnancy.
Maternal Body Protection Law gives a husband the right to force their wife to continue an unwanted pregnancy. Without a male signature on the consent form, women are forced to give birth against their will. If a woman gets an abortion without male consent by fabricating the form, she can face up to one year in prison.
This law applies to all married women.
However, in reality, women are asked to get permission from men in many cases regardless of marital status. In some extreme cases, women were asked to get permission from their abuser or even from a sexual predator due to the misconstruction of the law by some medical institutions.
Apart from the requirement for male permission, abortion care in Japan is sexually and financially abusive in many ways.
In Japan, the cost of abortion ranges from 900 USD to 3600 USD. Abortion is NOT covered by insurance at all, so women have to pay for the procedure out of their pocket.
The dilation and curettage (D&C) surgical method is used in over 80% of first trimester abortions in Japan, which is not only obsolete but also increases the risks of damaging the womb and causing complications.
Abortion pills are not yet legalized yet, so women are forced to wait until the embryo becomes a fetus that can be scraped out through surgery.
By making abortion extremely expensive, limiting abortion methods which require women to wait weeks for a procedure, and requiring 3rd party’s authorization, regulations make it more difficult for women to access the medical care they need and deserve.
Women have the human right to decide what they want to do with their bodies. Depriving women of bodily autonomy is human right infringement and sexual abuse by the nation!
I demand the Japanese government and the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare abolish the male consent requirement for abortion care and let women make decisions on their bodies as independent human beings.
To promote gender equality it is critical that the government recognize that women are capable of making decisions responsibly and independently just like men.
I would like the world to know Japanese women are still not allowed to make decisions independently. A lot of people have been forced to give birth just because they “failed” to get permission from their husband. Without the male authorization, our decision on our own future is treated as nothing and we cannot have access to the medical care we deserve.
Let us control our own future… Let us decide what we want to do with our bodies… Stop treating our bodies as men’s property…
These are what Japanese women are still fighting for in 2021.
In April, the European Parliamentary Assembly will choose new judges for the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). Three candidates can be nominated by each country. one of them will be chosen to sit on the Court for nine years.
The Polish government has nominated Aleksander Stępkowski, a lawyer and the founder of an extremist Catholic organisation which has actively worked to suppress human rights in Poland and across Europe, especially those of women and the LGBTQ community. His organisation opposes safe, legal abortion, they want Poland to leave the Istanbul Convention, they want to criminalise sexuality education and restrict in vitro fertilisation, they want to create ‘LGBT-free’ zones, and they want to restrict or ban divorce. One of their aims is to participate in European Union institutions in order to have a greater influence in them.
PLEASE SIGN THE PETITION REJECTING Aleksander Stępkowski AS A POSSIBLE EUROPEAN COURT OF HUMAN RIGHTS JUDGE, because he is opposed to many human rights.
Turkey must not leave the Istanbul Convention - REQUEST FOR INTERNATIONAL SOLIDARITY TO ALL CAMPAIGN MEMBERS!
From Women for Women’s Human Rights – New Ways (WWHR)
Today, 24 March, the Women’s Coalition Turkey, invite all global, regional and local women’s and LGBTI+ organizations, feminists, advocates of women’s rights and human rights, and everyone campaigning against violence against women to show solidarity to defend women’s and LGBTI+s’ right to live in every platform and geography, with regards to the Istanbul Convention.
Below, see the statement of the Women’s Coalition Turkey, which WWHR is a part of.
Please take action, write statements, share the social media visuals below with your solidarity messages–
USE THE HASHTAGS #IstanbulSozlesmesiBizim and #IstanbulSozlesmesiYasatır
FOLLOW the Women’s Coalition’s (@kadinkoalisyonu) and WWHR’s (@kadinih) social media accounts and call on your governments to show their support for the Convention.
SOURCES: E-mail with above calls for solidarity from Women for Women’s Human Rights – New Ways, 24 March 2021
22 January 2021
FRANCE - A call to women in France to sign a declaration if they had to go abroad for abortion or had an abortion beyond the legal time limits
The MFPF is mobilising to support extending the upper time limit for abortion beyond the first trimester after the pandemic is over. They invite women in France who have had an abortion outside the legal time limits and/or who had to go abroad (e.g. to England or Netherlands) for an abortion to sign a statement to declare this and to say that the current legal time limits are insufficient. Please write to this email address:firstname.lastname@example.org
Bad news from Honduras: urgent solidarity action needed
Even as we are still celebrating the victory of the legalisation of abortion in Argentina, we have received very bad news from Honduras. The activists are seeing opposition forces acting rapidly to try to prevent the victory in Argentina having any effect in their country.
In Honduras, one of the few countries in the world where abortion is completely banned, a new clause is being proposed as part of current constitutional reform. Its aim is to ensure that any attempt to decriminalise abortion in the future will be impossible. It was publicly announced on 10 January of 2021 and will be debated in the Congress very soon.
PLEASE SIGN THE PROTEST STATEMENT IN SOLIDARITY WITH HONDURAN WOMEN by 20 January 2021