© Amnesty International

Poland: Council of Europe condemns failure to combat violence against women

Following today’s publication of a damning new Council of Europe report which finds that Poland is failing to adequately prevent and combat violence against women and girls, Amnesty International’s Senior Women’s Rights Campaigner in Europe, Monica Costa Riba said:

“This report confirms what women and girls in Poland know all too well: that the government’s deeply misogynistic attitudes are putting them at daily risk of violence, and the dangers they face are getting worse.

“Lack of adequate protections for victims of violence combined with antiquated laws and a culture of victim blaming and impunity form a combustible mixture. Rather than tackling these urgent problems through actions such as adopting a consent-based definition of rape, Polish law makers are threatening to make the country less safe for women and girls.

“Attempts among some parliamentarians to replace the Istanbul Convention with a new ‘family rights’ law that restricts gender equality and LGBTI rights must be fully rejected and a new chapter in woman’s rights must begin.

“It’s time to protect survivors of violence and recognize that sex without consent is rape. The government must adhere to these recommendations and take decisive action to fully implement the Convention.”


The new report from the Group of Experts on Action against Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (GREVIO), which monitors the implementation of the Council of Europe’s Istanbul Convention on preventing and combating violence against women, urges Poland to reform all sexual offences in the Penal Code to “fully incorporate the notion of freely given consent and to ensure appropriate sanctions for all sexual acts without the consent of the victim”.

The report also emphasised the difficulties faced by women in Poland who seek to terminate a pregnancy resulting from rape, despite rape being a legal ground for lawful recourse to abortion in Poland. Women continue to also face obstacles of all sorts including in obtaining a certificate from the prosecutor on the suspicion that the pregnancy occurred as a result of a criminal act, and difficulties in accessing information and referral to medical services performing lawful abortions. These issues and others which frustrate women’s access to abortion services after rape in Poland must be dealt with to guarantee them the services they need and have a right to.