Thursday, October 06, 2016

The power of protest

Think protesting doesn't matter, that your voice doesn't count, that you can't make a difference? Think again. In Poland, women have just forced the government to back away from a Catholic-inspired abortion ban, after tens of thousands of them turned out in the streets:

A controversial proposal to ban abortion in Poland appears to have collapsed after senior politicians from the ruling Law and Justice party (PiS) backed away from it after a parliamentary committee urged MPs to vote it down following mass protests.

The justice and human rights committee, which reviews proposed legislation, recommended that parliament reject the bill following a wave of protests earlier in the week that appear to have caught the rightwing government off guard.

In a humiliating climbdown, PiS members who had referred the legislation to the committee less than two weeks ago threw it out.

The Liberal MP and former prime minister Ewa Kopacz told reporters the PiS had “backtracked because it was scared by all the women who hit the streets in protest”.

Which is good news, and a positive sign in Poland's politics (which is becoming increasingly nationalist and bigoted). But it also shows the power of protest. Speaking up does make a difference - all you need is enough friends joining you.