National frameworks in Hungary

1. Legislation
2. Law enforcement and protective orders
3. Support for victims
4. Preventive measures
5. Data and research
6. Collaboration with international organisations

1. Legislation

Hungary signed and ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW, 1979. Ratification: 22 December, 1980).

The Act LXIV of 1991 on the promulgation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) implemented the conceptual framework of domestic violence against children and domestic violence definitions defined by the convention.

Act XXXI of 1997 on the protection of children and the administration of guardianship was the first law in Hungary, which:

  • directly regulated domestic violence;
  • ratified those fundamental laws of children that the CRC defined;
  • defined the role of the Child Protection Perceiving and Reporting System, divided into institutions providing services (family support and child welfare services) or performing authority tasks (guardianship office);
  • regulated the operations of temporary homes for children, crisis centers, secret shelter homes and halfway house services.

Government Decree No: 149/1997. (IX. 10.) on guardianship offices and child protection and guardianship proceedings prescribed that, in case of abuse or severe negligence of children or any other severe cause of endangerment, the guardianship office shall immediately take measures required for the protection of the child.

The Act LXXII of 2009 on restraining orders applicable due to violence between family members defined and regulated the members and tasks of the system of institutions serving to prevent violence between family members. Organisations named in the Act shall report to the body in charge of family protection coordination.

The Act C of 2012 on the Criminal Code implemented relational violence as a legal fact (ACT C 2012.; 2012. 212/A. §).

ACT XC of 2017 on the Criminal Procedure, defined the rules of issuing a restraining order (ACT XC of 2017.; 280 § – on the regulation of restraining order).

2. Law enforcement and protective orders

Policies addressing domestic violence

2003 – The goal of the “National Strategy for Social Crime Prevention”, Annex to Parliamentary resolution, No. 11/2003. (X.28) is:

  • to improve the efficiency of the child protection system with a focus on early detection of violence and fast intervention;
  • to strengthen protection and crisis intervention institutions in the social care system; 
  • to establish the legal framework and institutional conditions of restraining orders;
  • to educate medical professionals (health visitors, doctors, nurses) for the effective detection of domestic violence and for taking an active role in the child protection system;
  • to map particularly endangered groups.

2010 – Government Decree No: 1004/2010. (I. 21.) on a national strategy towards enhancing social equality between women and men, 2010-2021, defined the following policies:

  • integrate innovative methods in social services, elaborated by NGOs;
  • establish a clear, coherent definition of domestic violence and related phenomena, that harmonises with international definitions;
  • establish the legislation of domestic violence as an individual legal fact in the Criminal Code;
  • widen domestic violence-related education of social professionals, as well as public teachers;
  • extend gender-based statistical data in yearly criminal statistical surveys;
  • extend the obligation of criminal courts in providing crime statistics related to domestic violence cases.

No new strategy has been implemented since then.

2014 – Hungary signed the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (Istanbul Convention). Some members of the Parliament initiated a draft resolution to ratify the Istanbul Convention on 15 December 2014. The parliament voted about the ratification and the parliamentary majority refused the ratification of the convention. The current government argues against the ratification of the convention in a highly politicised and anti-migrant framework. The main argument emphasised by the government is that the Istanbul Convention would not only attack the traditional family model but would also try to transplant the gender philosophy. Several critics arose from political parties throughout NGOs and human rights activist groups. As Hungary’s Minister of Justice emphasised in 2017, it was primarily necessary to analyse the internal legal system and find budgetary resources before the ratification.

20182/2018. I.25. – Instruction of the Hungarian National Police Headquarters on the implementation of police tasks related to the handling of violence between relatives defines the duties of the police officer when detecting domestic violence, including the process for issuing a temporary restraining order.

Professional protocols and guidelines for frontline responders in relation to domestic violence

  • 2011 – National Institute for Family and Social Policy. Professional protocol for the operation of temporary homes for families.
  • 2014 – Ministry of Human Capacities. Social- and Child Protection Department. Professional protocols for the operation of crisis centers and halfway house services run by temporary homes for families.
  • 2016 – Ministry of Human Capacities. Social- and Child Protection Department. Methodological guidelines – For the operation of the child protection perceiving and reporting system – Unified principles and methodology for all sectors on recognising and eliminating child abuse.
  • 2016 – Ministry of Human Capacities. Social- and Child Protection Department. Protocol – For the operation of the child protection perceiving and reporting system  – Unified principles and methodology for all sectors on recognising and eliminating child abuse.
  • 2016 – Ministry of Human Capacities. Social- and Child Protection Department. Professional recommendations – For the operation of the child protection perceiving and reporting system – Unified principles and methodology for all sectors on recognising and eliminating child abuse.
  • 2020 – Ministry of Interior Affairs’ State Secretary of Health. To handle violence and neglect against children.

3. Support for victims

There are nine crisis ambulances operated in Hungary, which intend to provide psychological, legal and social aid for victims of all forms of relational violence. The aim is to provide help as soon as possible and resolve problems before they escalate into violence. Crisis ambulance service covers legal, psychological and social support, assisted by lawyers, psychologists, and social workers. The ambulances can be contacted in person or by telephone or email. Their services can also be used anonymously.

If a victim of domestic violence is identified by the police, by a member of the child-protection signalling system or any other social welfare services, the victim is directed to the National Crisis Management and Information Telephone Service, responsible for risk assessment, and in case of emergency, takes responsibility for the coordination of the placement of victims in protected accommodations. Types of protected accommodations are: temporary homes for families, secret shelter homes, crisis centers and children’s homes of the child protection services. According to data from 2020 there are 20 crisis centres, eight secret shelter houses, two temporary homes for families, which all together ensure 320 spaces for victims of domestic violence.

4. Preventive measures

Prevention is the primary focus of the crisis ambulance service. It tries to help victims of domestic violence before harsh, extreme violent situations occure.

Employees of the crisis ambulance in Budapest carry out prevention in schools, juvenile correctional institutions and children’s homes of the Child Protection Perceiving and Reporting System. Usually, 2×90-minute workshops, based on the methods of informal and nonformal learning methods, are held as prevention sessions.  

Similar prevention activities are organised by regional crisis ambulances in rural cities (e.g., Devecser, Kaposvár, Miskolc, Mosonmagyaróvár, Szolnok). Some of these programs involve residents of segregated areas (mainly Roma) and students of after-school programs. Professionals of these crisis ambulances implement prevention in close cooperation with police officers, health visitors and school workers.

5. Data and research

There is a national database, operated by the Ministry of Interior, which publishes national-level, quantitative, annual, regional statistics on relational violence (covering: the number of registered relational violence crimes, the number of perpetrators, the number of victims).

Based on the financial support of the Ministry of Culture and Innovation, the Hungarian Interchurch Aid coordinates a research program on the comparison between coercive and controlling violence. In addition, the investigation focuses on the experiences and needs of male victims of domestic violence. 

The Ministry of Interior makes data accessible about the number of victims of domestic violence in Hungary. Data are only available after a request is sent to the Statistical Department of the Ministry. Data is updated annually (as soon as the official report of the Prosecutor’s Office is accepted by the Parliament). 

6. Collaboration with international organisations

NGOs fighting against domestic violence are members of international networks and take part in international initiatives.

  • Hungary takes part in EIGE’s activities.
  • Patent Association is a member of the ASTRA Central and Eastern European Women’s Network for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights.
  • Women For Women Together Against Violence Association (NANE) is a member of the Network of East-West Women as well as the European Women’s Lobby.
  • The Hungarian Women’s Lobby in consortium with NANE and Patent Associations ran a communication and advocacy project on the Istanbul Convention, from February to August 2023, funded by the Council of Europe’s “Ending Violence against Women: Multi-Country Programme”.