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Attempts to protect against violence, without ideology - a comment concerning Poland’s Report on the implementation of the Istanbul Convention

Published: 01.06.2020

Ordo Iuris

Poland submitted a comprehensive report on the implementation of the Istanbul Convention to the Monitoring Committee (GREVIO). It describes in detail all the legal measures and programs in place in Poland aimed at combating domestic violence. It should be pointed out that the report deliberately fails to refer to the ideological constructs present in the Convention, and that it clearly states the commitment to the protection of constitutional values. However, these actions are still not enough to prevent imposing radical concepts on Poland in the future, which aim to allow social engineering to impact the family.


The report drawn up by Poland in French on the implementation of the Istanbul Convention[1] consists of 8 main parts, which are dedicated to government-led policies aimed at combating domestic violence and data related to this phenomena (II); prevention (III); protection and support of victims of violence (IV); substantive (V) and procedural (VI) law in force in Poland; migration and asylum (VII) issues; other (VIII) issues. From the point of view of the Polish constitutional axiology, the most important part is the introduction (I)[2], in which Poland again invokes the content of the Declaration submitted in 2015 together with the ratification of the Convention[3]. According to the Declaration, any provisions of the Convention should be interpreted in accordance with the Constitution of the Republic of Poland, and in particular with the following Articles: 32 para. 1 (equality of all persons before the law), 32 para. 2 (prohibition of discrimination), Article 33, para. 1 (equality between women and men), Article 18 (protection of marriage, being a union of a man and a woman, as well as the family, motherhood and parenthood), Article 46, Article 48 (right of parents to rear their children in accordance with their own convictions).


Recalling the content of the Declaration to the Monitoring Committee (GREVIO) is essential, as it stresses that, within the five year period since Poland became a party to the Convention, this Declaration has remained in force. Therefore, also the Committee should formulate any comments on the implementation of the Convention by Poland in a manner consistent with the Polish constitutional axiology, which considers the equality of all citizens and the family, being a fundamental social cell built on the relationship between a woman and a man, as fundamental values. The date of the Committee’s meeting, during which the issues concerning the implementation of the Convention will be discussed, is June this year. In September, however, GREVIO plans to visit Poland to meet Polish officials and representatives of NGOs.


An important and consistently applied procedure used by the authors of the Polish report is referring to all victims of violence, meaning not only women (as the Convention would like) and children, but also men (the report most frequently uses neutral expression, such as “victims of violence,” “persons exposed to violence,” etc.). It is also worth noting that the references to the concept of gender, used by the Convention, are reduced to a minimum in the report (are present in three parts). Both procedures should be considered as intentional distancing from the ideological layer of the Istanbul Convention.


However, the Declaration issued and subsequently confirmed by Poland in the report and the omission of controversial concepts do not change the fact that the Istanbul Convention is a document of a radical character. The substantive rules contained therein on preventing and combating domestic violence are completely covered by the principles on which the Convention was built. As it has already been demonstrated many times, the Convention presents the phenomenon of violence as a problem arising from the very structure of society. The central term used in the document is the concept of gender (sometimes incorrectly translated into Polish as “socio-cultural gender”). According to its definition set out in the preamble to the Convention, “violence against women is a manifestation of historically unequal power relations between men and women, which have led to domination over, and discrimination against, women by men and to the prevention of the full advancement of women.” A group of specialists of the Council of Europe spoke out in a similar tone and indicated that “gender is not only a socially constructed definition of a woman and a man, but also a socially constructed definition of relationship between the sexes, which includes an unequal relation of power resulting in the domination of men and the subordination of women in most spheres of life.”[4] These definitions fully correspond to the views that have been promoted since the 1970s by radical groups, according to which gender is a social construct, created by a male-dominated society in order to oppress women. It is worth pointing out that these concepts are directly related to the dialectic assumptions of Marxism – changing, however, class struggle into sex struggle. Ignoring the biological and objective dimension of human gender, its impact on social roles, and finally breaking with the assumption that these roles are complementary, are extremely radical and dangerous demands expressed explicitly in the Istanbul Convention.


At the same time, building its rhetoric on the ideological battle of sexes, the Convention completely ignores the real causes of violence, which are actually due to the pathology of social life. The Convention does not include provisions on, for example, combating alcohol, drug or other addictions (e.g. pornography), sexualisation of women, or demands to strengthen family ties. It is worth pointing out that these factors of research are indicated as the major catalysts for the occurrence of violence against the closest relatives[5]. It is therefore difficult to consider this document as an effective tool aimed at eliminating this pathological phenomenon.


However, as it was already mentioned, the report was sent by Poland in French. Nevertheless, the web page of GREVIO displays an unofficial English translation of the report as the default one.[6] What draws particular attention is the fact that the English text contains numerous translation errors, including, among others, a replacement of the deliberately used by the authors neutral concept of sex (Eng. sex, Fr. sexe) or “woman and man” for the ideological concept of gender.


In view of these observations, it can be expected that, despite the numerous actions undertaken by Poland in the area of preventing and combating violence and the fact that Poland is a country with one of the lowest rates of violence against women[7], the Committee of GREVIO will negatively address the situation in Poland in this respect and will seek to exert pressure on our country to adopt radical ideology. These suspicions are already exacerbated by the fact of posting the translation of the Polish report on the GREVIO website, which is not in line with the original version sent in French, in which references to the ideological “gender” category are deliberately omitted.


Author - Karolina Pawłowska, Director of Ordo Iuris Intenational Law Center

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