Croatia ex-President Gives Middle Finger to Anti-Abortion Politicians
Croatia's female ex-president on Friday became the latest woman to give the middle finger to several conversative politicians for their anti-abortion statements during campaigning for next month's parliamentary election.
Many Croatian actresses, journalists and other female public figures have taken part in the campaign which has seen women posting pictures on social media of themselves symbolically raising their middle fingers.
"I join all women who with this 'indecent' act... raise their voice against those who try to send us back centuries," former conservative president Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic told the Jutarnji List newspaper that published her photo Friday.
Croatia's only female president, who served from 2015 until February this year, stressed that she is "always for life."
But she told the paper that that the times of women "sitting in a corner waiting for what the 'big boss' will say are over."
The row was sparked by comment made during debates ahead of the the EU country's parliamentary poll on July 5.
Folk singer-turned-politician Miroslav Skoro, whose right-wing Homeland Movement is third in opinion polls, said that if a woman gets pregnant after being raped she "must decide in agreement with her family what she will do".
Skoro said he agreed with the ruling conservative party HDZ's Gordan Jandrokovic that "life starts with conception".
Nino Raspudic, who is running on the list of the conservative Most party, said abortion is "murder".
The percentage of raped women who decide to have an abortion is "very small", he said during a televised debate earlier this month.
Education Minister Blazenka Divjak called the statements a "sadistic humiliation of women and their rights... for political goals".
She wrote on Facebook that the next step could be women only being able to vote after "consulting male family members".
In Croatia abortion is legal until the 10th week of pregnancy under a 1970s law from when the country was still part of communist Yugoslavia.
But the procedure is becoming more restricted as rising religious pressure sways doctors to refuse it on moral grounds.
In 2017, the country's top court ruled that the current legislation is outdated.
Rights groups fear this could pave the way for more restrictions.
An annual anti-abortion march will be held a week before the election in the capital Zagreb.
Nearly 90 percent of Croatia's 4.2 million people are Catholic and the church plays an important role in society.