Less 'Enticing' Warsaw: A Miniskirt Ban in Poland?
One Polish legislator has announced plans for a bill that would ban miniskirts and other "enticements" -- with the goal of reducing street prostitution. But the move is also part of a wider culture war.
What's fashion on the runways of Berlin could be illegal on the streets of Poland.
Artur Zawisza, a Catholic member of the breakaway "Right of the Republic" party (Prawica Rzeczypolpoliteij), wants to ban miniskirts as well as heavy makeup and see-through or low-cut blouses in a proposal he says is aimed at prostitutes. His initiative would rob Polish streetwalkers of a means of advertising, he says, according to Newsweek Polska.
Prostitution is legal in Poland, though, and Zawisza admits the ban might have a chilling effect on women who aren't prostitutes. "It is possible that a pretty girl on the way home from a disco might get arrested," he said, but he trusted Polish police to "tell the difference between respectable women and women with loose morals."
Zawisza has lobbied the Justice Ministry for months to back his proposals, according to Newsweek. In the meantime he and a handful of other conservative Catholics have left the ruling Law and Justice Party to form Right of the Republic. The failure in April of a constitutional amendment that would have restricted abortion further in Poland caused a rift in Law and Justice, and five of its members (including Zawisza) resigned, blaming Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski for not working hard enough.
The call for a less "enticing" Polish streetscape also comes days ahead of the so-called World Congress of Families, a conference in Warsaw of American and European conservatives that will start this Friday. A right-wing American think tank, the Howard Center, has organized the Congress with more than 20 American groups which all blame the weakening of western Europe on its tolerance of abortion, gay marriage, and other perceived social ills. Poland -- which has strict anti-abortion laws, but also a low birth rate -- looks to the organizers like a bastion of family values.
"Europe is almost lost to demographic winter and to the secularists," reads a WCF paper explaining why this year's conference should be in Warsaw. "If Europe goes much of the world will go with it. Almost alone, Poland has maintained strong faith and strong families On family and population questions, Europe is the battleground in the early years of the 21st Century, and Poland is the pivot point."
The last miniskirt ban in Europe dates to 1967, when a Greek military junta under General Pattakos banned both miniskirts and beards.
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