The protests, organized by the group Women’s Strike, have been occurring regularly ever since the country’s constitutional court issued an Oct. 22 ruling that further tightens an abortion law that was already one of the most restrictive in Europe.
Women and many others have reacted with rage to a step which they believe deprives them of a fundamental freedom. They have been defying the risk of contagion and a ban on gatherings during the coronavirus pandemic to join demonstrations have drawn hundreds of thousands of people across the nation of 38 million people.
The protests have also come to encompass other grievances against both the influenctial Catholic church and the conservative ruling party, including the detentions of people taking part in the demonstrations.
On Monday, protesters blocked traffic in Warsaw while others gathered in front of the Education Ministry building in an expression of solidarity with teachers who have been threatened with financial and disciplinary reprisals by the education minister for supporting the women-led protests.
Several people handcuffed themselves to the ministry gate and and a large banner was hung reading, “Free abortion and free education.”
Soon after the protest began, police arrived and forcibly removed people, including a photojournalist, Agata Grzybowska.
Officers dragged her away as other journalists called on them to stop, yelling that she was a journalist. A group then gathered outside the police station in central Warsaw where she was taken, protesting there as they waited for her to be released.
It was the first case of a reporter being detained during the month of protests.
One woman glued herself to the gate of the Education Ministry and the police worked for about an hour to unglue her and she was then taken away in an ambulance.
Warsaw police issued a statement saying they issued a message to protesters to behave in a legal manner, but that “in relation to people who disregarded orders, the officers used physical force.”
As mass protests have continued, the government has so far not taken the legal step needed for the abortion ruling to take effect.