Press statement STER committee and Women on Waves

During the press conference Wanda Nowicka presented the STER committee that has invited Women on Waves to support them in their struggle for women's rights.

The STER committee is representing several organisations and individuals for the Women on Waves project.

STER committee:

1. Democratic Union of Women, Gdansk
2. Emancypunx, Warsaw
3. Federation for Women and Family Planning, Warzaw
4. Karat Sekretariat
5. Co-educational Revolutionary-Libertarian-Anarchist Union
6. Konsola, Poznan
7. Krakow Centre for Women?s Rights
8. Network East West Women (NEWW)
9. Centre for Information for Women's movements
10. Ponton
11. Witch, Podlasie
12. Anna Kaminska, Ewa Graczyk, Marzena Dobrowolska, Joanna Klimczyk, Justyna Wlodarczyk, Urszula Pronobis, Weronika Chanska.

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First I would like to thank the STER Committee and all the Polish women's organisations and especially Wanda and Marzena for inviting us. This last week, I fully realised the enormous courage these women have.

In the three days that we have been here we were already insulted, harassed and intimidated.

Over the year that we prepared the project together with them I have heard often people say: 'I would like to help you and I support your cause but I cannot be involved because I might loose my job.'

Even finding legal assistance was very hard.
I must admit that I sometimes thought that it was an excuse.
Now, I know better.
There has been real fear in the eyes of the people we approached during the last three days.

Yesterday our ship arrived for the port or Wladylawowo. The weather was very bad.
When the storm calmed down in the afternoon, we requested permission from the Wladyslawowo port authorities to enter the harbour.
We were told that the weather was still to bad to enter. At the same time we saw at least one other ship leave the Wladyslawowo harbour.

We then contacted the port authorities of Gdynia. They told us that we could come into their harbour and they promised to have a pilot ship waiting to guide us into the harbour.
When we arrived the pilot ship was not there.
Instead, there was a mob at the quay throwing objects at the ship. We do not know who told those people we would come. The only people that knew we were seeking refuge from the storm in Gdynia were the port authorities.

We decided not to land in the harbour but to anchor in the Gdynia bay.

We will try again to enter the harbour of Wladyslawowo today, tomorrow or the day after tomorrow.
There is no legal ground for refusing our ship into the harbour so we trust that eventually, we will berth in Wladyslawowo.

There is clearly some small but very strong anti democratic force in this country that wants to impose its moral belief on others and there is nothing that they will not do to achieve that.

It is not so that people here are against abortion. Wives, mothers, daughters grandmothers, friends, aunts have abortions constantly.

In Poland there are between 80.000 and 200.000 illegal abortions performed each year.
Everywhere around the world, also here, abortion is the most performed medical procedure. The Netherlands has the lowest abortion rate in the world, still 1 of each 5 women will have one. In other parts of the world half of the women and more will have an abortion once in their lifetime.

Where can these women turn to in a country where the law is so restricted?

Women on Waves is not even allowed to talk about abortion services, as this might possibly violate Polish law.

How will these women be able to find the help they need?

One cannot even start to imagine their despair, their fear, their loneliness.
These are women that care about their lives and the lives of their children.
These are women that have reached a difficult decision that they need to make.
These women need our support, and our care instead of being ostracised, vilified, and made ashamed.

Abortion is a fact in the lives of women; a reality that we have to deal with, whatever some small groups personal opinions. People that do not agree with abortion do not have to have one, but they should respect other people?s private decisions.
The groups that are against abortion are spreading so many lies to manipulate the public opinion.

Making abortion illegal does not reduce the number of abortions. It just causes the unnecessary death of 80.000 women a year. It causes physical, and psychological and medical harm.

We need doctors to acknowledge the need for legal abortion and we would like to invite doctors and other medical health professional to join our workshop on June 27th at Eight 'o clock in the evening on board the ship. They can call 503366211 to register.

This is my statement for now. Just one final remark:

As long as women and others will remain silent, lawmakers will succeed in keeping abortion illegal and depriving women of a basic medical care.

We therefore urge the Polish people to support us and to take a stand. We would like to invite our supporters to visit the ship when it arrives in Wladyslawowo.