Poland’s decision to withdraw from the EU treaty on violence against women.

Chogwu Enape
3 min readJul 27, 2020

We just can't catch a break.

Yin Yang Gender Equality

In August 2014, the Istanbul convention came into force as the first legally binding instrument dedicated to combating violence against women. It defines gender and gender-based violence and makes provision for other abuses like marital rape, Female Genital Mutilation and forced marriages. 45 states have signed the Istanbul Convention and 34 have ratified it. Poland Signed it in 2015.

A couple of days ago, Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro of Poland said that he would begin the process of withdrawing Poland from the treaty because it imposes controversial ideologies about gender. Some of the critics who side with the Justice minister say that the convention violates parents’ rights by requiring schools to teach children about gender ideologies that go against Polish family traditions.

Okay. Let's look at what the convention says about teaching.

Article 14 of the convention provides for Education on this issue, as follows: ‘Parties shall take, where appropriate, the necessary steps to include teaching material on issues such as equality between women and men, non-stereotyped gender roles, mutual respect, non-violent conflict resolution in interpersonal relationships, gender-based violence against women and the right to personal integrity, adapted to the evolving capacity of learners, in formal curricula and at all levels of education’.

If you are here and you are wondering what exactly, is the Justice Minister’s problem, you are not alone. Now, Poland is a member of the European Union- a body that undeniably, is the most successful regional organisation in the world. One of the defining features of the EU is that there are certain requirements that states must fulfil to become members of the EU. One of these requirements includes respect for human rights and the Rule of Law. This stance was reaffirmed by the Copenhagen Summit of 2003. Gender-Based Violence is a human rights issue so what happens when one state threatens to violate human rights? I don't think that the EU offers ‘either-or’ options regarding the rules of participation and membership requirements.

I just don't get why this is such a difficult issue to understand. This man literally, wants to reserve the right to hurt women and girls and he is using culture as a gaslighting tool. Don’t get me wrong. I am not against culture but we have to be open to the idea that just because something is ‘cultural’ doesn't mean that it is okay. I am surprised that this is where we are because cultural evolution is the most prominent lesson in European History.

The cynical part of me is inclined to posit that this is merely a political move because the treaty was signed by the centrist government and now the right-wing government wants to undo it. Not surprising, women and women’s rights are the casualty of men and their egos.

I think that the EU has to take a tougher stance when it comes to protecting women’s rights and this is an excellent opportunity to do just that.



Chogwu Enape

Researcher, writer, and the ultimate idealist. One day I moved to Paris and many things have happened to me since then.