Polish women strike over strict abortion laws
Polish women donned black, waved black flags and took to Poland's streets boycotting jobs and classes as part of a nationwide strike to protest a legislative proposal for a total ban on abortion.
Many men - public figures among them - also joined the thousands of women on the streets of Warsaw, Gdansk, Wroclaw and elsewhere across the largely Catholic nation, on what has been dubbed 'Black Monday'.
The country already has one of Europe's most restrictive abortion laws and opinion surveys show very little support for an even stricter law, despite the nation's deep Catholicism and conservative political direction.
In Brussels, about 200 black-clad protesters joined the campaign, picketing in front of the European Union offices on behalf of Polish women, with banners reading 'No to the abortion ban'.
"Women must not be forced to deliver children from rape or that are unable to survive," said Brussels-based Polish writer Grazyna Plebanek.
The strike and street demonstrations follow a street protest by thousands on Saturday in front of the parliament in Warsaw. Under the existing law, a hard-won compromise in force since 1993, abortion is banned except in cases where the woman's life is in danger, the foetus is irreparably damaged or the pregnancy results from rape or incest.
The new proposal, now being examined by a parliamentary commission, would make all abortions illegal, even in cases of rape or when the woman's life is at risk, with prison terms of up to five years for women seeking abortion and doctors who perform them.