“Take Off Your Uniform and Apologize to Your Mother”


WARSAW, POLAND OCTOBER 23 RD 2020 Photo by Agata Hudomiet

With the exception of rape, incest and when the mother’s life is at risk, almost all abortions have been banned in Poland as a result of a law passed in the last few days. The health system is somewhat outdated and the judicial system is very closely allied with the ruling PiS party, which adds to the outrage over this new law. But, own opinion aside, it is also regarded as a hugely controversial move by the PIS party in Poland, which holds a clear majority in the Polish parliament. This is the case for a number of reasons: Firstly there is the timing issue. Everyone is worrying and coping with with Covid 19 pandemic. Thus one would not expect much opposition in a Country in near lockdown. If this was the PiS party’s intention, they miscalculated, considering the huge crowds that flooded the streets of Poland’s major cities. More of that later.

WARSAW, POLAND OCTOBER 23 RD 2020 Photo by Agata Hudomiet

There is the second reason. Because of the PiS party’s close association with the Catholic Church, an institution that holds considerable social and political sway in Poland, the law is seen as a clear interference by the church in the affairs of the state, where, it is argued, it should have no input. As a corollary, this law is seen as payback to the Church as a result of the Catholic Church delivering on its promise of a clear number of votes in recent party and presidential elections. The PiS party is seen as repaying the Church in the form of a law seen as anti-woman and anti human rights, just as the establishment of anti LGBT zones, seen as homophobic and anti human rights. The establishment of such zones have garnered widespread criticism worldwide.

The above paragraph might is a distillation of my own views, the views of people close to me, people I meet and work with as a teacher in a small private school in Karpacz, a more liberal part of the country. But what transmits better is to see pictures of the demonstrations and see the kind of outrage people feel.

This is not a country to live in Photo by Agata Hudomiet

The government were well prepared for demonstrations when the law was passed. Police from all over the country were moved into the centers of major metropolitan districts (Poznan, Warsaw, Wroclaw and Krakow) and were in full riot gear. but the epicenter of dissent is certainly Warsaw, and the photos here are from the demonstrations in Warsaw on the 22nd and 23rd of October, where the police were protecting the parliament buildings, and the home of Jaroslaw Kaczynski. Lately demonstrations have spread from these centers to around sixty Polish cities.

WARSAW, POLAND OCTOBER 23 RD 2020 Photo by Agata Hudomiet

The title of the blogpost (“take off your uniform and apologize to your mother”) comes from what the protesters are shouting at the police. The intimation here is that the police (or whoever is holding a uniform or holding office) should feel shame at their stance in defending a clearly unjust law, that they should remember that they too come from their own mothers and that as such should remember their families, their sisters and the rights being taken from what constitutes half the population of Poland. Polish culture and society puts considerable social capital on appearance, to be seen to do things correctly and in accordance to social norms. Shame follows one like a vapor trail when one steps out of line socially. Poland is also a country where the figure of mother is venerated. To be confronted with a chant by many, many thousands challenging the police to publicly apologize to their mother and throw down their uniforms is a rather pointed criticism of the establishment and the police.

Dead I won’t give birth to a child, I don’t want to give birth to a dead child. Enough! A sentence upon women!. Women’s Health. They keep breaking our rights, but you won’t break us! Women’s rights are human rights!” Photo by Agata Hudomiet

WARSAW, POLAND OCTOBER 23 RD 2020 Photo by Agata Hudomiet

thanks to Agata Hudomiet for these photographs.