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Ruling Fidesz MP's absurd remarks about the causes of domestic violence

The following words were actually uttered by Mr. István Varga, one of the MPs of Hungarian governing party Fidesz: "Women are getting involved in emancipation and self-fulfillment and are actually forgetting their duty to bear children. If you want to still have a Hungarian population 50-60 years from now ... you can engage in self-fulfillment and emancipation after you gave birth to at least two-three or four children.

[...]

...

Maybe, mothers have to return to raise children, give birth to three-four children and after that they will probably earn the proper mutual respect and the question of domestic violence would not even occur under these circumstances."

The women in the Fidesz parliamentary caucus–there are mighty few–refused to say anything about the incident. One announced that she didn't hear it, another suggested that the journalist should be more interested in the case of Béla Biszku, the high communist party official who might be responsible for a number of political murders after the 1956 revolution. A third one muttered something about all those polite gentlemen in parliament. It was only Gabriella Selmeczi, the spokeswoman for Fidesz, who was outraged. It seems that she at least understands that the party cannot afford to alienate women voters. Antal Rogán, parliamentary whip, later joined forces with Selmeczi and distanced himself and the party from István Varga's outrageous remarks.

Women's rights group have accused Hungary's parliament of trying to skirt genuine debate on the issue of domestic violence by scheduling discussions on the topic for the middle of the night.

Lawmakers will hold discussion of domestic violence on Tuesday, but not until 2 a.m. CET. The focus of the discussions will be a citizen-led proposal aimed at creating a specific law to criminalize domestic violence. Most lawmakers say the current laws are adequate.

Hungary's parliament has often used late-night sessions to debate controversial issues such as taxes on telecommunication services, changes to media law, judges' retirement and some constitutional issues.

Women's groups in the country say it's a sign that lawmakers want to avoid visible debate on the issue. When minority green party LMP proposed holding discussions during the day, House Speaker László Kövér said that the issue wasn't weighty enough to warrant more attention.

An estimated 70 women are killed by their partners every year in Hungary, accounting for about 39% of all manslaughter cases in the country, according to two women's rights groups. These groups want a separate law to protect women in these cases.

"I just simply can't see the rationale behind this decision. I want them to show me those parts within the criminal code that would cut the number of deaths to the ratio seen in Germany," said Judit Wirth, a member of NANE Women's Rights Association.

In Germany, there are 154 deaths due to domestic violence annually, which compares to a population of around 83 million people. Hungary has a population of less than 10 million.

In the past, both Amnesty International and the U.N.'s Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women have expressed concerns over the lack of a specific law on the books for domestic violence against women.

During parliamentary debate on the new criminal code in June, "80% of MPs said there's no need for such a case," said László Salamon, chairman of the parliament's constitutional committee, according to Hungarian daily Nepszabadsag. "Both the governing party and the opposition thought such regulation would have just bottlenecked chasing such crimes."

Source: WSJ, Hungarian Spectrum

Last Updated on Friday, 30 August 2013 09:11

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