“I stand in solidarity” - Letters to the Polish Prime Minister in collaboration with FemSoc and Amnesty

On the 2nd of December, Her Campus Bristol collaborated and co-hosted an online Letting Writing workshop with Bristol Feminist Society and Bristol Amnesty International.

The event focused on the worrying and momentous occurrences in Poland, starting with the Polish Constitutional Tribunal’s ruling on the 22nd of October 2020 that access to abortion on grounds of ‘severe and irreversible foetal defect of incurable illness that threatens the foetus’ life’ was unconstitutional. In the weeks following, waves of protest led by those affronted by the attack on women’s human rights ended with excessive police force and subjection to arbitrary detentions. Consequently, questions of whether the right to freedom of assembly, as protected by Poland’s Constitution, is being diminished by the country’s law enforcement authorities have arisen in conversations around the globe.

This morning one of our co-presidents Noa Blane Damelin detailed the context and captured the essence of the emotive and thought-provoking conversations which arose from this group effort to condemn the Polish government’s recent reaction to abortion ruling protestors. Following on from this, we are honoured to share some of the specific statements made and addressed to Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki by those who attended the workshop.

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In her letter to the Prime Minister, Sophie Spitz shared her perspective on the fundamentally unfair happenings:

I am devastated by the tribunal's decision that tightens what were already some of the strictest abortion laws in Europe. The law puts women's bodies under attack, stripping women of their power to take decisions over their own bodies. Instead of safeguarding and protecting people's rights, Poland's Constitutional Court has contributed to violating them. I am even more devastated by the use of excessive force against protestors, denying them their right to peaceful assembly. I was deeply disturbed when watching the footage of peaceful protestors corned by police, beaten and pepper sprayed, some of these women were only 17.

 

Yasmin Gledhill also addressed her concerns of the liberty depriving ramifications of the recent rulings:

I am deeply concerned by the restrictions inflicted upon women in Poland because the right to an accessible abortion is vital for gender equality. Women should have the moral right to decide what to do with their own bodies, especially as banning abortions only piut women at further risk by forcing them to use illegal and often dangerous methods of abortion. I cannot believe women still have to fight for such rights, women have had enough and their rights cannot wait. Here in Bristol, I stand in solidarity with Polish women in their struggle to secure their rights and the freedom to peacefully protest their Government's actions.

 

Another participant bravely shared her reflection on the events to the Prime Minister from her perspective as a Polish woman herself:

As a young Polish woman born and raised in the UK, it saddens me deeply to see this happen in a country that has fought for centuries for recognition and for the basic rights and freedoms of its people. For a long time, I didn't like being Polish. However, in recent years, I became incredibly proud of this fact, as I learned morea bout this brave country and the role my family played in its history. Given the events of the last month, it is difficult to maintain this sentiment. Now it seems that I come from a backward country, which actively encourages suppression of human rights and unequal treatment of women. I do not belive this is what we fought for. I implore you to reconsider this policy, for the benefit of the women all over Poland; and so that Poland can continue to stand proudly alongside other countries working towards bettering conditions for women. And a reminder, the world is watching you.

 

The accounts produced from this event were impassioned and emotive, gaining a greater sense of poignancy as we remember our liberty to publish these opinions freely on this platform when women across the globe are fighting for their basic rights to be respected.

For more discussion and continuation of the conversation, keep an eye out for Her Campus contributor Dulcie Godfrey’s podcast Her Podcast Bristol, where she will be discussing the event and sharing some of the letters next week.

If the details of this event interested you, Amnesty Bristol run a weekly online letter writing series on Wednesdays that anyone can get involved in.