Photo: Female activist Aneta Petani violently escorted from cathedral after her silent peaceful protest against disinformations about Istanbul Convention.
Credits: Petr Zewlakk Vrabec
The panic over refugees in a country which granted approximately 1,500 asylum and subsidiary protections per year (half of them for Ukrainians) is slowly subsiding. But the “patriotic” nationalistic and of course conservative political parties side by side with former anti-Islam and anti-refugee initiatives have found (with impressive coordination) a new public enemy – progressive gender policies and especially the Istanbul Convention.
The document which is designed to fight against gender-based violence and promote equality is presented by them as the instrument of a “homosexual and feministic” NGO lobby to erase the differences between sexes, threatening the “traditional family“. One of the most outlandish predictions that has gone viral (first mentioned in a sermon by the Catholic priest and former Minister of Education Petr Piťha during a national holiday) is that one of the consequences of the Istanbul Convention will be the creation of “concentration camps for parents, who raised their children traditionally - to raise the girls as the girls and boys as the boys”.
How little the real content of the Istanbul Convention is understood is illustrated by a video that appeared on Facebook. In this video an “activist” is shocked and terrified that he found the word “gender” in the Istanbul Conventional 158 times!!! Really shocking in a document which is dealing with gender inequality and gender-based violence, isn´t it? But it shows clearly that “gender” has become the new universal enemy. A new threat which has come from the EU and the Western world. It seems that almost anything is possible.
We are facing a well-coordinated and probably well-financed campaign. Priests are preaching about the Istanbul Convention during their sermons, in the pews you can find colour-printed flyers. A former anti-Islam and anti-refugee activist has translated (and altered) the Istanbul Convention Handbook and delivered his manipulated translation to all MP´s and senators. Those former fighters against conservative and reactionary Islam, which oppresses women, are now the biggest supporters of the traditional family and traditional role of woman. Even some politicians from conservative but definitely pro-European parties have adapted the way they speak about gender topics and the Istanbul Convention.
In the meantime women NGO workers helping migrants face intensive gender-based cyber-bullying, public shaming, defamation and threats of violence or rape. After a series of reports, awareness of this danger is growing and some commercial security companies are offering female NGO workers self-defence courses for free. The places get filled immediately.
Zuzana Schreiberová, director of Multicultural Center Prague, SOLIDAR board member