According to the proposed legislation, spouses would have been allowed “single cases” of beating their partners. A victim’s consent would have become necessary for the police to intervene.
Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has blocked legislation that would have eliminated “single cases” of domestic violence from the scope of law enforcement. Under the proposed set of measures, only those spouses who have been beaten more than once could seek help from the police and prosecutors.
“Every act of domestic violence — whether a ‘one-off’ act and repeated acts — must be treated firmly and unambiguously,” Morawiecki said in a statement, according to the Daily Telegraph.
“Tackling domestic violence is a priority of the government of Law and Justice (his political party), and Polish law must be clear and without a shadow of a doubt fully protect victims,” he added.
The bill was authored by the Family and Labour Ministry, and was published on the Government Legislation Centre website on 31 December, immediately sparking a massive wave of criticism and controversy.
However, the proposal has been returned to the author by the Prime Minister, in order to remove “dubious content”.
The proposed legislation also introduces changes to Poland’s “Blue Card” Police procedure — a set of measures aimed at preventing domestic violence. Under new regulation proposed in the legislation, victims of domestic values would have been required to give their consent before the police can begin to monitor a troubled household.
According to Prime Minsiter Morawiecki, victims are commonly intimidated by their abusers, and therefore police may never be able to receive their consent.
“Victims are often intimidated, which is why the Blue Card is to defend the rights of the person who has been harmed. Victims of violence must feel that the state is on their side,” Morawiecki said.
Morawiecki’s move to scrap the changes was supported by human rights campaigners, Daily Telegraph reports.
“[The proposed legislation] would have made it significantly more difficult to stop domestic violence and potentially to prosecute it,” said Hillary Margolis, a researcher at the women’s rights division of Human Rights Watch.
“This is a crime we know tends to escalate, so the first instance will not be the last and it becomes worse over time,” she added.
According to Margolis, Poland’s government has taken on a controversial path to prioritise traditional families on a national level, striving to promote the idea of family unity even if it meant condoning domestic violence and sacrificing the human rights of individual women.
“It was concerning to see them taking it one step further with this proposal, but at least for now they have backed down,” she said.
The Family and Labour Ministry did not provide an immediate comment on the matter.