Date: May 2021
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While Poland was among one of the first nations to grant legal rights to women, over the past decade the governing body has been slowly eroding away any progress, undermining sexual and reproductive health rights and criticizing gender nonconformity.

A dark day for Polish women, on October 22 last year the country’s government chose to roll back reproductive rights, imposing a near-total ban on abortions, while its present government has been threatening to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention on prevention and combating of domestic violence.

Naturally, a lot of Polish people are angry. Recent polls suggest social conservatism does not have overwhelming support, with 70% of Poles backing the widespread protests against the abortion ban, while the majority want same-sex relationships to have legal recognition.

NGO ‘Centrum Praw Kobiet’, which translates to Center for Women’s Rights, has been fighting against the country’s assault on women’s rights since 1995, striving to promote equality in Polish society while preventing violence against them.

Working with agency Dziadek Do Orzechow, Centrum Praw Kobiet has delivered ‘Recharge women’s rights in Poland’, which is a fierce, hard-hitting film that doesn’t shy away from the difficult subject of women’s rights in Poland.

The film centers around the graphic of a neon battery, which is used as a marker to document the fluctuating progress of the past decade on women’s rights. Taking the viewer on an emotional rollercoaster, it tackles issues of domestic violence and abortion, encouraging the viewer to go out and protest.

The film opens with a cartoon woman, crying and shackled as orange blood pours from her vagina. “Human rights, women’s rights, tradition of women, a tradition of violence against women, tradition cannot justify violence against women,” barks the voice of the narrator, as the film flicks through footage of women, from historical pictures to cartoon depictions to women in real life.

The narrator’s anger grows as she talks of women’s rights and the tradition of violence against women, which causes the battery to plummet in charge.

Approaching the contentious issue of the European domestic violence treaty, former president Bronislaw Komorowski is shown ratifying the Instanbul Convention in the Women’s Rights Center office. Up, surges the battery, gaining energy with progress.

However, last year Poland’s justice minister Zbigniew Ziobro announced he was to pursue withdrawal from the treaty. The film shows that moment and footage of the current president Andrzej Duda denouncing it, which sucks energy from the battery.

The film also covers the tumultuous issue of abortion, which has gone through various stages of restriction in recent years, best captured by the narrator as she reads “appeal the right to abortion, abortion ban, complete abortion ban, complete rebellion”, before scenes of women’s rights protests across the country erupt across the screen.

The film also approaches issues of women’s violence, stating “the sentence for the abuser, the rapist has more rights than the rapee”, and the country’s issues over gender-nonconformity.

‘Go out to protest’ is the film’s poignant message. “The past few years have shown that rights are not given once and for all. Recharge women’s rights,” it ends.