Law and Justice Takes Revenge for Polish Women’s Strike

Maciej Rauhut. Photo: Private archive

"Right at the door, they told my mother that I could be charged with eight years in prison because of 'illegal activity' observed on my Facebook profile," says the 18-year-old. "I was informed that sharing an event connected with Strajk Kobiet [Women's Strike] constituted incitement to commit a criminal offense, i.e. taking part in an illegal gathering. They ordered me not to participate in the protest the following day."

"I told them I was not guilty of any crime - sharing a post is not equivalent to incitement to commit a crime. Forty minutes later, the policemen arrived at my school and told the principal that I was an organiser of an illegal gathering. I had to explain everything all over again," says Maciej.

When Maciej described his encounter with the police on Facebook, the protest scheduled for the following day was cancelled. The teenager showed up with a group of friends in front of the police station, accompanied by journalists working for the independent news channel TVN24.

"When the policemen realised that there was a media presence in front of their station, they only peeked through the windows and hid behind the curtains," says Maciej.

Even so, on the same day, the police referred Maciej's case to a family court on the charge of "demoralising minors by inciting them to participate in a gathering through Facebook". A week later, on November 25, the court rejected the case, citing a failure to find proper grounds to initiate such proceedings. Maciej and his mother wrote a complaint about the policemen's conduct.

"Until that day, I had a lot of respect for the Polish police. I believed that police officers had a mission to serve the state and its citizens. Now I see that...

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