HUNGARY by forrests

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									HUNGARY NANE NANE, a Hungarian Women‟s Rights NGO was founded in January 1994, and achieved the status of a charitable organization in 1999. NANE is primarily dedicated to ending the human rights violations and the threat of violence against women and children through advocacy, personal support services and public education. OUR MAIN ACTIVITIES INCLUDE: • • running a helpline with volunteers for women and children whom are exposed to physical, sexual, economic and emotional violence; lobbying and introducing law-amendment proposals where current regulations need enhancement regarding equity, litigating power of women and children, and protection of the rights of women; providing legal support (counseling and/or representation) for battered or otherwise abused women; cooperating with government and non-government institutions to improve policy; and public education on the roots and effects of violence against women and children, and victims‟ rights.

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THE HELPLINE operates from 6 to 10 p.m. seven days a week by around 15 trained volunteers who give callers emotional support, information about their legal options, and referral to other services if required/available. We get an average of 60 calls a week, and the number is rising. There are in fact, desperately few resources available for abused women and children in Hungary at all. Officials and practitioners in the criminal justice system (including attorneys, judges etc.), the law enforcement and health care professions show little sympathy or understanding for the victims, as well as virtually no knowledge of the realities of violence against women as a human rights violation. The equal protection of the law guaranteed by the Declaration of Human Rights and the Hungarian Constitution is a long way from being realized in practice. PUBIC DEBATE AND THE IMPROVEMENT OF THE LEGAL BACKGROUND for women‟s rights have always been a priority for NANE. In 1994 we started a public campaign in the media and by collecting signatures, to have marital rape included in the definition of rape in the Hungarian criminal code. In 1995 we petitioned the Constitutional Court to declare this exclusion unconstitutional. Though the Constitutional Court never managed to pronounce an opinion on this topic, in 1997 the Hungarian Parliament finally did amend the Penal Code to outlaw marital rape. In 1999, in cooperation with both Hungarian NGO‟s and an American non-profit organization, we participated in organizing public debates and a demonstration against the restriction of reproductive rights. We currently have two law-proposals handed in, one to the Ministry of Justice, the other, through a Member of Parliament, to the Parliament. Both proposals aim to remedy discrimination of women and girls (and, in the fist case, sexual minorities), which the current legal regulations perpetuate. These proposals were worked out and signed in cooperation with other human rights organisations. Highly dependent on our funding situation, we nevertheless attempt to provide LEGAL ASSISTANCE to as many of our clients as possible. Many callers need legal advice, which is either provided by our trained helpline volunteers, or by lawyers we are in contact with. Some clients need legal representation, which we usually cover from funding for this purpose. Up to now, funding for this activity was scarce, but there is a growing need that the organization

faces regarding the provision of legal representation which we are determined to answer. Also part of this activity is the assistance in the writing of official letters, inquiries etc. in legal cases, accompanying the client to the court, the police, or to other authorities where she is likely to be treated more lightly if she is on her own, sometimes even covering travel costs for a client to go to a hearing. COOPERATING WITH GOVERNMENT AND NON-GOVERNMENT INSTITUTIONS TO IMPROVE POLICY consists of training‟s we hold for government officials from such different fields as the police and the visiting nurses, for example, as well as training‟s/demos at schools (elementary, high schools, colleges and universities) and other NGO‟s. Apart from an introductory session of about 60-90 minutes usually used in classes at schools and universities, we have three training modules: an introductory training of 10-15 hours, an advanced training of 30 hours and the full course of 50 hours. It also includes the distribution of our booklet we published in the beginning of the year 2000 on domestic violence and training and talks we are invited to as a follow-up. PUBLIC EDUCATION is achieved by a relatively constant presence of NANE in both the written and the electronic media. We have at least one electronic media appearance and at least one article in a bigger magazine or newspaper per month in which we have a chance to voice our views on the issue. Our first public education campaign is in process, it includes leaflets, wallet cards, and posters on the rights of victims of violence, the effects of domestic violence on women and children, and steps communities, authorities, politicians and experts may take to prevent and/or stop violence against women and children. It is important to understand that women‟s rights and children‟s rights are often inextricably linked in Hungary. Though our organization is focused on women‟s rights issues, we nevertheless often find ourselves advocates for children‟s rights as well. This is especially true when battering and abuse goes on in the home, or when sexual abuse is involved. Therefore, we included children in the above description of our activities wherever, based on our every day experience, children are abused in a direct correlation with the abuse of women. PROJECTS CURRENTLY RUNNING Helpline Since the establishment of NANE in January 1994, our helpline for abused women and children operates every day all year from 6 to 10 p.m. Since 1999 we have been able to offer a toll-free number for our callers. There are approximately 6-12 calls per night. The cases often demand our involvement regarding legal aid, representation and practical help with noncooperative institutions. ‘Why Does She Stay?’ In this recently published 52-page-long booklet we outlined the background of a battered woman, her relationship to her abuser, the ways individuals and institutions can help her and the way she herself can be empowered to change her situation. Peer Education Project In this project we aim to reach young people who are also affected by violence but who are still more flexible to recognize it and change it than many adults are. We have several teens who, as we are nearing the official end of the project, have an overall understanding of interpersonal violence, and are capable of speaking about these issues to their peers. IOM (International Organization for Migration) helpline In this joint project with IOM, NANE operated a helpline first 8, later 4 hours every weekday for women who are planning to work abroad. The purpose of the project was a) to lower the risk that women face when working abroad, especially forced prostitution and trafficking in women, b) to offer information on their rights and obligations abroad, and c) to offer

information on the institutions that can be of help, should they need it. The helpline is to restart later this year with weekly eight hours. Public Education Campaign This is a campaign funded by the Soros Foundation and USIS to produce leaflets, information cards, and stickers providing information on the following topics: how to recognize battering, the rights of victimized women, the effects of violence on children, myths and facts about domestic violence, and information about our helpline. ‘Silent Witnesses’ In line with the public education campaign, this individual project is also designed to call attention to the serious, in many cases deadly, effects of domestic violence. The ‟Silent Witnesses ‟ are wooden silhouettes of female figures painted in red with a true story on each side of a woman murdered in a domestic violence case. Publication project This project started the publication of books on issues that are closely related to violence against women and other women‟s rights issues. We will publish a series of books dealing with the following topics: psychological trauma following rape/incest and other domestic violence-related crimes and their treatment, assertiveness and self-defense for young people, feminist writings from the women‟s movement, women‟s health issues, etc. Training’s and Courses Each year we hold a minimum of two volunteer training courses, 50 hours each. We regularly hold training for members of different professions who come into contact with battered women and children. We have several modules from 60 minutes introductory classes to the 50-hour full training. The IOM-NANE trafficking prevention helpline IOM Budapest selected NANE Women‟s Rights Association for the information helpline part of its multimedia information campaign to prevent trafficking in young Hungarian women. The selection was almost self-evident, since NANE has highly experienced senior staff in helpline counselling for women victims of violence. Although the helpline was technically available from February 2000, due to delays in the start of the media opening (it seems that the media company had difficulties in purveying the unconventional message of the prevention campaign), significant number of calls was first registered around mid-March. With the joint regular television appearances of IOM and NANE staff, the public acquired finally a clear picture of the aims of the helpline and the possible target groups. Caller numbers: right after the start of the campaign, during the 8-hr shifts, we had approx. 810 REAL calls a day, i.e. calls fitting the target group and the theme of the helpline. This boost lasted approximately one month. Later on, despite the 8-hour shift, we had no more than 4-6 real calls a day. For the operators, clearly a sign that fewer hours are enough. Unfortunately until the original end of the project in September, this could not be changed, we never learned, why. Typical caller profile: mostly women aged 17-30, planning to work abroad. Approximately equal numbers of them were just starting to look, already contacted one or several agencies, or had a concrete offer or even a signed contract at the time of their call. Our assistance for the typical caller included: checking the agency they planned to or did contact on a list of registered job agencies. We went through a list of safety checks both for the time prior to and after leaving for the job, talked about legal and illegal jobs, working visas, etc., and when possible, gave the phone numbers of helping organisations in the target countries.

In some cases, worried mothers called the helpline, often with the direct wish to stop their (adult) daughters by some means from going abroad. We suggested to these callers that they share with their daughters the information we gave them, rather than trying to threaten their daughters. Also, that our number should be with the information they give to their daughter. We also prepare these mothers for the scenario that their daughter decides to go ahead. That rather then turning their backs on their daughters is supportive so that their daughters will more likely stay in touch. In a few cases, although it was not advertised, we received calls from survivors, mainly wanting to share their stories to help others. Another small group of callers were relatives, mostly mothers, who called because their daughters disappeared when working abroad, and because they tried to get help from the authorities but received only neglect or abuse. In these cases we gave information on police procedures, and, when applicable, got in touch with our contact at Interpol Budapest, so that she could do what the local police stations failed to do: bring such cases to the attention of the Interpol office. We also notified European organisations working on trafficking about our activities. As a result, Proyecto Esperanza of Spain contacted us to receive three women coming from them back to Budapest. Using IOM infrastructure, we received these women at the airport, and stayed in touch with them after their arrival. We also work together with LEFÖ of Austria regarding their Hungarian client. This work however, can be only done sporadically since funds are not available to create a full-scale operation of this sort. General evaluation of activities: our aim of empowering the women through information about the facts and realities of their venture was very successful in most cases. Based on our conversations we can safely state that the women who contacted us received an individualised confirmation of the information they might have encountered in the leaflets. Their awareness and alertness regarding safety and legality of jobs abroad has risen significantly. We are convinced that NANE‟s method of counselling in which we communicated with the caller as with an equal made it possible that they did not automatically close down when they received information which was uncomfortable to receive. General background Hungary is a country without a women‟s movement, which makes its situation rather unique and difficult. Without a supporting ideological background, recognition, prevention, and intervention of violence against women is a monumental task. Apart from the suffragette era of the early 20th century, women‟s issues as a political struggle have not been present in the social agenda. It was only in the 1990‟s that a few women started to organize and publicly discuss women‟s problems. Although violence against women is a widespread problem, up to this day our organization, NANE Women‟s Rights Association, has been the only women‟s NGO in the country dealing with domestic violence. Representative surveys confirm that Hungary is in no better position than other European countries: at one point in her life every fifth woman is battered by her partner, which means that in a population of 10 million one million women are affected by physical partnership violence. As for sexual violence and child abuse we can only make guesses about a latency of 10-28 times higher than the actual number of known cases. Based on our hotline data we can say that both physical and sexual violence is a major problem in Hungary. Hungary‟s biggest ethnic minority is the Roma minority adding up to approximately 10 percent of the overall population. The Roma are generally characterized by a lack of resources, extreme poverty, and massive discrimination. Roma women are among the least likely to have education and employment, and we can safely say that they encounter a significantly higher extent of interpersonal violence both from peer men and majority groups than white women.

In general the majority considers Roma women immoral and good for one thing – rape. This is reflected in the fact that the vast majority of street prostitutes are Roma girls and women. Sexual violence Even though rapes committed against children (especially boys) and women by unknown perpetrators are the most likely to be understood as rape, most victims choose not to report it. The services of the police and the trials taking years undoubtedly deter many victims. Old prejudiced attitudes about the woman being provocative or asking for it still prevail in both public opinion and institutions In case of a known perpetrator the process becomes more difficult since many people, including victims, do not recognize or acknowledge acquaintance and marital rape as sexual violence. Surveys also show that women do not report forced or coerced sexual encounters with boyfriends/husbands as rape. Locally the vast majority of prostitutes are Roma women (see above). An other group especially vulnerable to prostitution is Roma and non-Roma girls growing up in state homes. These girls are given a monthly allowance by the state that is collected for them on a separate bank account and handed over to them on their 18th birthdays. It happens very often that affiliated men await the birthday of these girls eagerly and cheat them out of their money, thus robbing them of their only chance to find some kind of shared accommodation. Often these girls find themselves in prostitution either working on their own or for their prostitutors (so called „boyfriends‟). In the last few years trafficking of women has also become a known problem. Hungary is both a sending and receiving country as for trafficking. Every year several hundred Hungarian girls and women are lured by false advertisements and coerced into prostitution both in Hungary and abroad. Sexual violence and the law The Hungarian law has two major problem areas: old laws reflecting old prejudices and lack of modern approaches. At present the Hungarian law provides no criminal categories for the following areas: domestic violence in general, restraining order, sexual harassment, sexual harassment of youngsters from persons of authority, stalking, and incest. Age of consent The age of consent is 12 (!). Between the ages of 12 and 14 a minor may consent or not consent to a sexual act. Even if s/he consents, the law calls it „debauching of minors‟ and theoretically punishes perpetrators. This extremely low age limit leaves young girls extremely vulnerable and unprotected against sexual abuse by older men, which fact is readily exploited by prostitutors and other perpetrators (ie. „clients‟). Incest Incest is included in the Penal Code under the name of „blood contamination‟ – a derogatory, victim-blaming term that has been used for centuries. The law explicitly refers to blood relations between victim and perpetrator, thus and leaving girls less protected by the law against sexual abuse by foster fathers whose acts qualify to a lesser crime, and providing a way for foster parents to get away completely free with the rape of „consenting‟ foster daughters above the age of 14. In case of parent-perpetrators the common institutional response is the „elevate‟ the child out of the family and put her into a foster home. This practice clearly deters many victims from reporting the abuse in order to stay with their families and in the meantime punishes the child victim instead of the perpetrator. Gay relationships

For gay sexual relations the consenting parties need to be over 18, which is also the official coming of age. The blatant discrimination towards gay sexual activities is also reflected in the prejudiced terms of the law that speaks of forced homosexual sexual acts which are „against nature‟ as if it was homosexuality and not coercion that is „against nature‟. MARITAL RAPE After long battles and scandalous remarks from politicians, marital rape was finally introduced as a separate item in the Penal Code in 1997. Recent surveys however show that 45 percent of women have no knowledge about marital rape being a crime. Since the law was introduced we have had no knowledge of any test cases. Law enforcement By comparing independent survey data and data provided by the Ministry of Interior we speculate that in Hungary approximately 98,2 percent of reported heterosexual rapes remain unpunished. The legal process is most often halted by the police (“lack of evidence”) or the judges themselves. The roots of this inefficiency lie in the complete lack of training of these professional groups. Although in the case of underage victims of sexual abuse there seems to be more responsiveness from both professionals and the public, due to lack of specific training the handling of such victims if painfully inefficient, and in many cases only adds insult to injury. The whole country has only one „child interrogation room‟ (to be found in the capital) where sexually abused children in theory can be privately interrogated and their confessions can be videotaped to avoid secondary traumatization. Much as the room is the pride if Hungarian police, we know that it is hardly ever used, and NANE members themselves have also seen the room showing signs of being out of use. Adult victims generally meet even less sympathy. Rape victims get no complex support should they decide to report the assault. The police is not offering integrated services for women (gynecologist, peer-counseling, and trained female officers). Instead, countless questions are raised about the woman‟s dress, intentions, and involvement in the attack. The problems get even worse if the perpetrator is known to the victim, especially in the case is marital rape. Children‟s abuse is often dismissed on grounds that they were taught to lie by their mothers in order to get a more favorable court decision. Secondary traumatization is an enormous problem for victims. Ironically, one of the services of ESZTER AMBULANCIA (see below) is to help the victim assess if there is enough evidence in her case to press charges or it is more feasible not to report the offender and get more traumatized in the criminal investigations and endless trial . Awareness of professional groups Professional groups who meet victims on a regular basis including police officers, social workers, nurses, doctors, psychologists, psychiatrists, and teachers are not given specific and compulsory training about domestic and sexual violence in general and job-specific knowledge in particular. Types and dynamics of violence against women and children, the physical and psychological effects of victimization, and efficient techniques to work with such victims are not specifically on the training agenda of these groups. Thus myths and victim-blaming are still a major problem for victims of sexual abuse, and experience shows that professional groups on the whole are unprepared to deal with such victims effectively. It is rare the problem of abuse is identified by the professionals unless the victimized client specifically discloses the abuse. The police and the legal professionals often fail to use the existing legal possibilities in cases of domestic and sexual violence; whereas the law forbids the beating of a person by an other, this law is not routinely used or the penalty is mitigated in case of close and intimate relationships like marriage.

In the past few years NANE has managed to establish connections with a small number of professionals who have access to organizing trainings for such groups. Due to scattered invitations we have been able to provide introductory courses (1-3 hours) to groups of nurses, doctors, social workers, psychologists, teachers, and/or students in these professions. However the number of people we have been able to reach is far from enough to install a change in professional attitudes. Healing from sexual abuse The only professional organization that explicitly and exclusively deals with child and adult victims of sexual abuse is a small collective of two psychologists under the name ESZTER AMBULANCIA. Here two psychologists (one female, one male) offer therapy for victims who can make contact with the organization by an answer phone and who are carefully preselected. Although the majority of victims will not seek professional help, those that do with some luck may end up with an understanding and self-trained therapist. We have spoken to a few girls and women who reported having found helpful therapists. However, as opposed to the countless accounts of unsympathetic or even hostile therapists this offers little solace. Many therapists for example still identify incest as an Oedipal problem of women instead of a social problem of men. Acquiring help outside the professional mental health system basically means having a supporting family/friends or finding the hotline of NANE. Although NANE has been planning to start a self-help group for survivors of domestic and sexual violence, due to lack of funding and staff, so far we have been unable to do so. The last option we as a civil organization have is the equip the survivors with self-help books – a means we often resort in our trainings and on the hotline. This is a relatively safe way for survivors to find answers and healing, although without the benefits of a communal interpersonal experience. Susan Forward‟s Toxic Parents has recently been translated into Hungarian and has proved to be a useful book that we often recommend. With the forthcoming publication of Judith Herman‟s Trauma and Recovery in the book publishing project of NANE, we hope to reach many survivors and professionals.


								
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