“Women’s hell”

Berlin Wall, fragment of the mural “Women’s Hell”, Berlin, Germany
(photo: Ewa Czwartacka-Roman, 31.10.2020)

This mural was created on the initiative of feminist organisations on a fragment of the Berlin Wall as an expression of opposition to the judgment of the Polish Constitutional Court of 22.10.2020, which tightened the rules of abortion and the penalization of women who want to have an abortion.

All-Poland Women’s Strike

Ogólnopolski Strajk Kobiet (the All-Poland Women’s Strike), is a women’s rights social movement in Poland, established in September 2016. It was set up in protest against the rejection by the Sejm of the Polish Parliament of the bill “Save Women”, which was considered by the Sejm in parallel to the project “Stop to Abortion”. The movement was responsible for the organization of Black Monday, a protest action that took place simultaneously in 147 Polish cities, towns and villages.

Structure and key people

In October 2017, Marta Lempart was head of All-Poland Women’s Strike.While OSK was a key organiser of the September 2016 Black Protests, the protests themselves were decentralised. Klementyna Suchanow was one of OSK’s leaders who proposed the 26 October “walk” to the house of de facto leader of Poland Jarosław Kaczyński, which turned into a 10,000-person protest. Suchanow described the tactics for the continuation of the protests as decentralised, up to grassroots initiatives and creativity.

Suchanow stated in October 2020 that OSK was not a political party, but that some members, aimed at becoming members of Sejm, the Polish lower house of parliament, and that Katarzyna Kotula [pl] of OSK was already a member of Sejm.

Coordination Council

On 1 November 2020, in response to the widespread demands of the October 2020 protests that extended beyond anger against an abortion-related ruling, OSK established a Consultative Council inspired by the Belarusian Coordination Council that had earlier been created in August 2020 during the 2020 Belarusian protests.


2016–2017: Creation and early protests

Black Monday protest in Wrocław, 3 October 2016

All-Poland Women’s Strike was created as one of the groups organising the September 2016 Black Protests against proposed legislation that would have tightened abortion law. The protests brought together 100,000 protests who marched in 143 villages, towns and cities in Poland. Together with Argentinian women’s rights activists, OSK helped launch the International Women’s Strike together with women from 28 other countries in 2017.

2017–present: Repression and continued protests

On 4 October 2017, following protests organised by OSK, police raided the offices of the Women’s Rights Centre and Baba in WarsawGdańskŁódź and Zielona Góra. The raids were interpreted as intimidation. Marta Lempart, head of OSK, described the raids as “abuse of power” that disurpted the women’s work by the confiscation of computers and documents. The police spent nine hours in the office of Baba removing files. Strajk Kobiet booth at Woodstock Festival Poland in 2017

In July 2020, the Polish government considered withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention that aims to prevent violence against women and domestic violence. Two thousand women protested in front of the Ordo Iuris headquarters. Marta Lempart described the government’s attitude to women’s rights, stating, “This government has been laughing in the faces of victims of gender violence for years.” Marchers with a “women’s hell” hashtag and the OSK red lightning symbol on a banner, protesting on 24 October 2020 in Gdańsk.

October 2020 protests[edit]

OSK was one of the coordinators of the October 2020 Polish protests that followed the 22 October 2020 Constitutional Tribunal‘s ruling banning the most commonly used of the three cases allowing a small number of legal abortions in Poland. On 27 October, on behalf of OSK and proposals from citizens, stated that the aims of the protests included a return to the rule of law:

On 28 October 2020, Klementyna Suchanow of OSK stated that the initial involvement of OSK in the protests was to defend women’s own rights, not to remove the government. She stated that the aims of the protests had expanded based on comments, slogans and wide discussions with people who had joined the protests.

Suchanow, who had been injured by police during protests in earlier years, leading to a spinal operation, interpreted a speech by Jarosław Kaczyński as a refusal to withdraw the Constitutional Tribunal ruling and an encouragement of escalation of violence.

The President of the Constitutional Tribunal, Julia Przyłębska, after a disgraceful verdict condemning Polish women to unimaginable suffering in case of pregnancy and defects of the fetus*, took refuge in the Przyłębski Villa in Berlin, where her husband is an ambassador on a daily basis.

After the activists of the “Dziewuchy Berlin” organization found her home, regular protests began at the Przyłębski’s house. The neighbors – broadly understood, because on quite a large area – received leaflets in which the organizers from the “Dziewuchy Berlin” collective apologize for the obstacles and explain their causes – who the addressee is, starting from the CT pacification and backstage placing her at the head of the dummy by the Law and Justice party, and ending with the essence, that is, that she set the fuse on fire and ran to the “peaceful haven in Berlin open to the world”

*according to the judgment of the Constitutional Tribunal of 22.10.2020, the provision of the law allowing for the removal of pregnancy in the case of severe damage to the fetus is inconsistent with the Polish Constitution.

(Quelle: Wikipedia, red. Ewa Wanat)

Below is the English language version:

“Dear citizens of Thielallee, dear fellow citizens, As you could see, your quiet, beautiful surroundings have changed in recent days into a place of loud protests and gatherings. You are probably wondering what this is about. We feel obliged to explain this to you. The case concerns your neighbors, the couple of Julia and Andrzej Przyłębski, who lived at number 79. Mr. Przyłębski has been the Polish ambassador to Germany for over four years. As a faithful ally of the ruling Polish right-wing-populist formation, he bears responsibility for the constant state of crisis in Polish-German relations. He has spoken out many times in a provocative and aggressive manner, which has contributed to the fact that both the friendship between the two countries and the difficult process of historical reconciliation are still encountering serious obstacles. However, it is not the reason for our presence in your neighbourhood. We mean his wife, Julia Przyłębska. In 2015, immediately after the right-wing populist party Law and Justice, led by Jaroslaw Kaczynski, took power, the process of destroying the independent justice system began. A very important link in the judicial system of control over lawmakers was the Constitutional Tribunal, which had the power to overrule unconstitutional laws and regulations. As a court of key importance to democracy, it became the object of a hostile, illegal takeover. With the help of legal tricks and illegal judicial appointments, soon the chair of the president of the TK was filled by an incompetent but loyal to the government judge, Julia Przyłębska, who was unknown to anyone before. She fulfilled her task. The Tribunal ceased to function properly as a supervisory body. The government is free to enact unconstitutional laws, and the average citizen has lost the support of the body that has so far defended his fundamental rights. One of these rights was taken away from the Polish people as a result of a very controversial verdict of that tribunal a few days ago. It was the right to terminate the pregnancy if a serious defect in the fetus was found. The tribunal suddenly annulled the law, which had lasted for over 25 years, when all major political forces in Poland made a difficult compromise. Millions of Polish women and men took to the streets in protest against this decision, despite the raging pandemic in our country. For over a week now, protests, gatherings and strikes have been taking place all over the country, as well as beyond its borders, against this inhuman, undemocratic verdict. The country has found itself in a state of dangerous confrontation between its citizens and an aggressive, ultra-conservative ruling formation that is increasingly resorting to threats of open violence in its defense. Julia Przyłębska set the powder keg on fire and immediately evacuated to Berlin. We cannot accept that the destroyer of democracy in our country lives peacefully outside its borders, in our common metropolis, open to the world. We, the proud citizens of Berlin, will not let “bloody Julia” continue to lead a comfortable, luxurious life in Germany while our homeland, set on fire by her, stands in flames. We therefore found her previously kept secret residence in Dahlem in order to regularly remind her of her deeds. As much as we are sorry to have disturbed your peace, we hope that we can count on your solidarity and understanding as our fellow citizens. We will make every effort to leave the place of our protests in order every time. We also hope that one day you will want to join us in an act of solidarity. Our gatherings are open and many Germans participate in them. After all, we are concerned about universal values: women’s rights, human rights and justice, directly threatened in one of the countries of our common European Union by Julia Przyłêbska’s actions.

With respect, Dziewuchy Berlin”.

The leaflets were distributed to many houses, service points, stores and an Italian restaurant where the ambassador is sometimes present. They were received with interest.


Polish women say: “Enough”!