‘We are not only fighting for abortion, but for our freedom’

04 Nov 2020

In Warsaw, the capital of Poland, some of the largest protests in decades are taking place, a 100.000 people showed up last Friday. They protest the new abortion law that states that women cannot get an abortion in case of a fetal defect. Student Dorota Falkowska felt like she had to do something, even now that she lives in Nijmegen, and organised a protest. ‘We have to make noise right now.’

In Poland, people flooded the streets the past few days to protest against the court ruling that stated that abortion due to fetal defects was unconstitutional. This means that abortion in Poland is basically illegal in every scenario, except when the woman’s life is in danger or the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest. Environment and society student Dorota Falkowska (24) wanted to join those protests. ‘In different circumstances, I would go to Poland to protest with my friends and family,’ she says. ‘But because of the corona crisis, I can’t do that right now. So I organised something here.’

She says the situation in Poland is very worrying for women. ‘Before, it already wasn’t legal to have an abortion when you didn’t want to have children. Women who could afford it could go abroad, others had to have their child, even if they did not want to.’ With the new law, Falkowska says, the reality has worsened for women. ‘The government in Poland sees women as incubators, we cannot decide what we want for ourselves. People are protesting against that and against this government. It would be great if we can abolish it all together.’

Pandemic

She has only lived here for two months. ‘I am at the beginning of being a citizen here in Nijmegen. It is very exhausting for me to follow what is happening in my country,’ she says. ‘My mind has been in Poland lately, but my body is here.’ She felt like she needed to do something, for herself and for other Polish people in Nijmegen. ‘Other protests in The Netherlands went well and I was surprised that they were possible during this pandemic. So I contacted the city hall and got permission to organise a protest here myself.’

Today at 17.00, Falkowska hopes to see as many people as possible at the square in front of the Valkhof museum. She expects around a hundred. ‘The city is allowing us to do this if we keep our distance and wear a mask. Of course there are people who don’t feel comfortable to go out now, so there will also be a live stream for them,’ she says.

She thinks it is important for Polish people here to do something. ‘We can’t do anything in Poland right now, yet we are very frustrated about the new abortion law,’ she says. ‘I also heard from other internationals who are very worried about women’s rights in the world.’ She hopes that in this way, she can still contribute to the debate. ‘Here, people can hear us and we can unite. We have to make noise.’

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