An almost total ban on abortion in Poland led to tens of thousands of women protesting both inside and outside the country. Amongst them, International Law students Domi and Aleksandra, who live and study in Groningen. ‘I am not going back, I don’t even pity the fact that getting a Dutch citizenship means denouncing my own.’
On Friday 30 October 2020, the Polish constitutional court defined abortions of malformed foetuses as incompatible with the Constitution. The only reasons that can legally justify abortions now are cases of rape, incest, or a great risk for the mother’s health. This decision means a near-total ban on abortion. As a reaction, across the country and all around Europe, tens of thousands of women took to the streets to protest the ruling.
The Netherlands, in four years, gave me more acceptance, comfort and stability than Poland ever could
International Law students Domi and Aleksandra live and study in Groningen. Domi was born 23 years ago in Poland, while Aleksandra a couple of years later. They have little in common, as different families raised them in different parts of Poland. However, both of them, four years ago, decided to move to Groningen to study International Law.
‘Honestly, The Netherlands, in four years, gave me more acceptance, comfort and stability than Poland ever could,’ says Domi when asked to describe her experience abroad. ‘It’s extremely hard to stay away from so many people I miss and there were so many things I had to forgo but after all, I would probably become depressed if I would go back home now.’
‘‘When I first left four years ago, the plan was to study, get experience and come back with a good skill set and contribute somehow to the country that raised me. But not anymore. I am not going back, I don’t even pity the fact that getting a Dutch citizenship means renouncing my own nationality.’
It might sound paradoxical, but my home country is a place that scares me
Recent surveys show a constantly increasing number of Polish youngsters who are not willing to go back home after living abroad. There, as many of them say, they get to know new realities, social dynamics and new kinds of freedom. And this new increased awareness makes them reluctant to accept returning to a stifling cage.
‘It might sound paradoxical, but my home country is a place that scares me,’ says Alexandra. ‘There is no more democracy, the Courts and tribunals are no longer operating in line with the Polish Constitution. It is definitely extreme to compare Poland to North Korea, but to be honest the situations are not that different.’
Kaczunski is just a puppet who only says things that he knows will not meet any opposition
‘Theoretically, today’s main two political presences are Andrzej Duda (president of Poland, ed.) and Jarosław Kaczyński (leader of the Law and Justice party, ed.) . But Kaczunski is just a puppet who only says things that he knows will not meet any opposition. He has no personal principles or ideas, but instead made Duda’s principles his own. Overall this situation is a joke.’
‘It is an immense pity, as these people represent Poland on the international stage. And due to them, Poland is not progressing but, on the contrary, it is returning back to the times when the most basic human rights, like the right to life and liberty, were denied and certain topics labelled as taboos. And what surprises me the most is the huge amount of people who support them and see them as positive guides. It is unbelievable. It is as if their supporters are blind to the government’s shutdown to the future.’
It is extremely frustrating to see the conditions in other countries improve, but not seeing it happen in your own
So what created this situation? Domi thinks it’s because many Polish people are still overly conservative. ‘They are blind due to church related notions, a nationalistic upbringing and the omnipresent patriarchy. These concepts are all they know and what defines their comfort zone. But in this way, they lose perception of reality as they do not even try to understand what is changing and why. In practice, they are refusing progress and change, they prefer to just freeze time.’
‘It is extremely frustrating to see the conditions in other countries improve, but not seeing it happen in your own. Just look at New Zealand’s Prime Minister, a great visualization of how politics and progress go hand in hand. Indeed, there everyone can act and express themselves freely without being stopped by any meaningless law.’
So does Domi think a female Polish president would solve the problem? ‘Even though I’ve been longing to see strong women in power on the Polish political scene since I can remember, all I have to say is that I would just prefer to have an educated, compassionate and assertive person with an actual calling on this spot, regardless of their gender.’
Photo: Ester Caffa