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Polish protesters go nude as abortion fight takes new form

FILE PHOTO: Artist Ania Bielawska is taken away by police officers during an artistic performance "Spacer" ('Walk") against the ruling by Poland's Constitutional Tribunal that imposes a near-total ban on abortion, in Warsaw, Poland, November 3, 2020. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel/File Photo

WARSAW (Reuters) - Two protesters stripped naked in front of Poland’s Presidential Palace on Tuesday, covering their bodies in swear words as demonstrations that have shaken Poland since a court ruling banning most abortions took a new shock approach.

The Constitutional Tribunal last month banned terminations due to foetal defects, ending one of the few legal grounds left for abortion. Thousands have taken to the streets almost every day since.

While primarily demanding abortion rights, the protests have expressed deep-seated anger at Poland’s nationalist rulers, laying bare the divisions between liberals and religious conservatives in the staunchly Catholic country.

“[The naked protest] relates directly to the fight for women’s rights, for human rights, for people to be treated in a dignified way,” said Jadwiga, an activist present at the scene.

The two protesters, Ania Bielawska and Lukasz Stanek, covered their naked bodies in profanities before walking around the area in front of the palace surrounded by a crowd of photographers.

“They were prevented from walking far but it was symbolic,” said Jadwiga. Their nudity which is supposedly offensive in public was intended to protest the offensive way some people are treated in Polish society.

“Too often we hear in the public space insults, vulgarisms and abuse of human sexuality targeting other people,” said Jadwiga.

Reporting by Kacper Pempel, writing by Alan Charlish and Anna Dabrowska, editing by Alexandra Hudson