Waving rainbow flags and chanting anti-government slogans, protesters massively carried the symbol of their revolt in Warsaw – a red lightning bolt.
Demonstrations have been taking place for nine days against the Constitutional Court’s controversial ruling on restricting abortion.
“We are ready to fight to the end,” Marta Lempart, a co-founder of the Women’s Strike movement, who called for protests, told reporters on Friday.
“We’re tired!”, “My body, my choice!” Chanted banners waved by protesters, mostly young people, who also shouted anti-government slogans.
According to Warsaw City Hall, “tens of thousands of people” attended the rally in the city center, where police made “several arrests” following two incidents.
Women’s rights activists behind these assemblies are facing legal proceedings because any gathering of more than five people in the public domain is banned.
Protests of relatively smaller magnitude took place in dozens of other large Polish cities, such as Krakow, Lodz, Katowice and Wroclaw, and small protests also took place abroad, in Barcelona and Vienna.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki warned of the consequences of protests during the pandemic, while the Ministry of Health announced a peak of 21,629 contaminations in 24 hours.
“Let us not allow the elderly and the weakest to suffer because of irresponsible behavior,” Morawiecki wrote on Facebook.
Members of the Polish government categorized the demonstrations as “acts of barbarism” and “vandalism” following attacks on Catholic churches.
Far-right groups have urged Warsaw residents to “defend” churches during Friday’s protests, despite organizers announcing they are not targeting religious institutions.