WARSAW, July 19, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Poland’s Bishops’ Conference and numerous pro-life and pro-family groups have denounced a Council of Europe convention that purports to address violence against women but has been criticized as an ideological attack on religion, tradition and culture. The organizations are urging the Polish government not to ratify the convention.

“The Presidium of the Polish Episcopal Conference notes with great concern the announcement of the Prime Minister that the Polish government will sign without reservation the proposed Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence. This is in contradiction to the earlier announcement of the Prime Minister, that a public debate is needed on the Convention and the consequences of its signature and ratification,” the Polish bishops said in a statement issued last week.

The convention redefines gender as a social construct, rather than as a distinction grounded in biology, and suggests violence towards women is systemic with roots in religion and culture.

According to the “Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence” which was publicized in April, 2011, gender “shall mean the socially constructed roles, behaviors, activities and attributes that a given society considers appropriate for women and men.”

This new “social construct” definition is at odds with the definition in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court - which this new convention cites.  The Rome Statute states that, “For the purposes of this Statute, it is understood that the term “gender” refers to the two sexes, male and female, within the context of society. The term ‘gender’ does not indicate any meaning different from the above.”

“The Polish Episcopal Conference supports the protection of women against violence, but does not agree with the ideological assumptions of the Council of Europe Convention,” the Polish bishops declared.

“It should be emphasized that the Convention, although it is devoted to the major issue of violence against women, is built on ideological and false assumptions that are in no way acceptable. It suggests that violence against women is systemic, and its source is religion, tradition and culture,” the bishops wrote, noting that Article 12 of the convention obliges signatories to “dismiss the achievements of civilization,” which are considered “as a threat and a source of violence.”

“A particular concern,” the bishops continued, “is the imposition of the signatories’ obligation to education (in Article 14) and promotion of “non-stereotypical gender roles,” meaning, therefore, homosexuality and transsexualism. Linking the legitimate principle of preventing violence with a dangerous attempt to interfere with the educational system, and the moral values professed by millions of parents in Poland, is a very worrying sign.”

The bishops also point out that Polish legislation already has sufficient tools to deal with violence, including violence against women, and that the government should focus on initiatives to “strengthen the role of families, improve health care for women and girls, support the professional education of women, to pursue educational programs, based on mutual respect and cooperation of both sexes, including the preparation for life in the family.”

“Undertaking such measures,” the bishops concluded, “rather than signing the controversial Convention, it can actually prevent and help combat all violence, even that against women.”

Pro-family groups in Poland have issued numerous statements calling on the government not to ratify the convention.

A spokeswoman for the right wing “Solidarity Poland” party, Marzena Wróbel, issued a statement saying, “The convention of the Council of Europe, which PM Donald Tusk and the Civic Platform party want to ratify, is yet another attack on family and its values.”

Wróbel equated the convention with the promotion of homosexuality and transsexuality, saying it makes the definition of manhood and womanhood relative and independent of biological facts.

“In the light of this convention, every person who wants to be a woman, can be a woman. This is against reality,” Wróbel stated.

She also pointed to Article 12 of the convention, which says that culture, heritage, religion, tradition or “so called honor” must not be “used as justification of any acts of violence as defined by this convention.”

“Poland’s tradition has always been that violence against women is unacceptable and, in accordance with our culture, a woman is always given special respect. Poland was, after all, one of the first countries in the world to give women the right to vote,” Wróbel said.

In an open letter to the government, the authorities of Centrum Służby by Rodzinie (Center for Service to the Family), an organization based in the city of Łódź that helps families and victims of domestic violence, and runs Poland’s largest non-state-funded home for single mothers, said, “The Convention would introduce into the Polish law a definition of sex based on the ideology of “gender”. The Convention has a characteristic pejorative attitude to culture, tradition and the heritage of nations. It seems that the authors of the convention must have realized that it would raise controversy.”

“Sadly, the Convention in its present form seems to be a social and political manifesto, and not an instrument for the protection of victims of violence. In this document, women have become a tool of hidden interests, once again they have been objectified and abused. Let us not connect the protection of abused women with the need to adopt the gender doctrine, or any other ideology.”

Mariusz Dzierżawski, founder of the Warsaw-based PRO foundation and one of Poland’s most prominent and active pro-life leaders, told LifeSiteNews he believes the Polish prime minister is being pressured by radical feminists to sign the convention.

“The feminists are pushing for a quick ratification of the convention by Poland. The Prime Minister is yielding to the pressure,” Dzierżawskii said.

“The convention itself contains articles suggesting that it is the traditional view on family and gender issues that actually causes violence against women. So, there are reasons to suspect that the convention will be used as a tool to deconstruct family and destroy moral norms.”

“The convention’s advocates are using moral blackmail,” Dzierżawski observed, “implying that if you are against the convention, then you must approve of violence against women. They can’t see (or maybe they just pretend no to see) that it’s the family and moral norms that really protect the dignity of women. A hundred years ago a similar kind of project was implemented in Bolshevik Russia. I haven’t heard about women being too happy about it.”

Joanna Najfeld, a Polish journalist and pro-life commentator, noted the complicity of the liberal mainstream media in Poland in promotion of the convention that she labelled “ridiculous beyond belief.”

“Nobody in this country, or in any other sane, democratic society, would agree to it if it was being introduced through democratic channels, like a popular vote or a referendum,” Najfeld told LifeSiteNews.

“The mainstream liberal media silence, downplay, or manipulate the subject totally, so it can be ratified quietly by those in power in Poland now, and soon used against the Polish nation. The European Union uses the back door to impose these absurd, and extremely dangerous ideas on us.”

“We are a traditional nation,” Najfeld declared. “Traditional, meaning sane, rational and conservative.”

Comparing the imposition on Poland of the Council of Europe’s gender ideology to Communist oppression, Najfeld said, “the liberal ‘elites’ use lies, coercion, and supranational powers to perform yet another - excuse my strong language - rape on our society. Communism oppressed us and now European institutions are a new oppressor.

“What they are doing is abuse on our nation. We are like a beaten woman, abused by somebody stronger, in her own home,” Najfeld asserted.

Contact information:

Polish President Bronis?aw Komorowski
E-mail: via website

Prime Minister Donald Tusk
E-mail: kontakt@kprm.gov.pl

The Polish Conference of Bishops
E-mail: skep@episkopat.pl

The Parliamentary Committee for Social Policy and Family
Online form