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The anti-gender movement—which blames feminism for a “global sexual revolution” that threatens “freedom,” the family, and the survival of humankind—began in the West, but has had more influence thus far in Hungary, Poland, and Russia where leaders have embraced their ideas and used them to justify illiberalism. This conservative trend butts against the human rights achievements of the 1990s, when international organizations and Central European NGOs successfully introduced the term “domestic violence” and established services and some legal protections for its victims. The 2011 Istanbul Convention, the first binding international legal instrument among the Council of Europe member states that requires and monitors the establishment of laws and services for victims of domestic violence has become a focal point of conflict because many Central European governmental attitudes have changed direction from openness and interest to hostility toward gendered analysis of domestic violence. A similar turnaround has taken place with the previously successful midwifery movements of the early 2000s that tried to make birth a less oppressive experience for expectant mothers and newborns. How, why, and when Central European publics and governments respond to conflicting values and pressures regarding these two central policy aspects of gender equality will be the subject of this presentation.
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