Why this story matters:
Looking at the program of 16 Days of Activism I have ambiguous feelings: I wish there was no need for such campaigns, and yet I think we may need more than 16 days. Hungarian society is in dire need of thought-provoking discussions when it comes to gender violence.
At least 50 women die every year in Hungary to the hands of their relatives and partners. Hundreds of thousands of women are regularly abused in their families, yet decision-makers are reluctant to recognize how serious of a problem this is. The Istanbul Convention was signed in 2014 by virtually every EU country, but the conservative government has still not ratified it.
"The delay is unfathomable" – said Zsuzsanna Winkler, from the NANE Women's Rights Association, which combats violence against women and children.
The aim of the Istanbul Convention is "to end the impunity of the perpetrators”, to prevent violence and to protect victims. Its ratification would not only bring about positive changes in Hungary, but it would also send a strong message: we do not tolerate any form of violence against women. But for some reason, the government does not want to send out this message.
Hungary is led by an administration whose members imply, both in speech and actual policy, that the main duty of women is to give birth (to as many children as possible -- definitely more than one), and obey their husband. No official has publically contradicted this notion. Needless to say, there are no women in the Hungarian government.
Details from the story:
- Reka Safrany, president of the Hungarian Women's Lobby, pointed out that although the Hungarian government has set up a task force to prepare the ratification of the Istanbul convention, its work remains a mistery, and no NGOs were invited to advise or help the task force.
- According to NANE, in 95 per cent of the cases the abuser is a male and the victim is a female.
- Many women are reluctant to report abuse. In police stations and courts they are often confronted with a hostile environment. There is a culture of victim-blaming from both authorities and social circles.
- 16 Days of Activism, a UN Women campaign, encompasses a wide range of events all over the world: self-defense classes, a roundtable discussion about inappropriate behaviour experienced by mothers during labour, peaceful demonstrations and film clubs, to name just a few.