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Strides to Combat Domestic Abuse Continue in Poland

Rates of domestic abuse are steadily increasing in Poland, where the country’s strict allegiance to the Roman Catholic Church and the sanctity of the traditional nuclear family that reinforces male dominance. Many women are finding it impossible to attain legal or psychological counseling for abuse, especially in a country where a Polish proverb touts “If a man does not beat his wife, her liver rots.”

Many women’s groups are taking steps to sensitize police, who often ignore or overlook cases of abuse, by sharing with them the stories and experience of women victims. The Women’s Rights Center in Poland provides some legal rights and mental health counseling, and new billboards in the capital city of Warsaw display pictures of battered women with a tag line that reads, “Because the soup was too salty.”

Despite these efforts, courts reported that in 1995 alone, there was a 33 percent rise in the number of domestic violence cases. Divorces remain almost unattainable and Warsaw still does not have any battered women’s shelters. Government officials remain unsympathetic, claiming that scarce financial resources should be spent on “keeping families together rather than helping battered women.”

Sources:

The Human Rights Information Network, July 13, 1998