UN Women's Discrimination Committee Reviews Hungary

03 July 2007

Budapest: The European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) has submitted a parallel report to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), which at its 39th session later this month will review Hungary's compliance with the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. The ERRC's report highlights areas of concern with regard to the situation of Romani women in Hungary.

The report is based on extensive primary research by a team of ERRC Romani and non-Romani women who visited Romani communities in Budapest, Miskolc (northeastern Hungary) and Pecs (southwestern Hungary) in March and April 2007, interviewing 124 Romani women. Combined with a review of the current data available on the situation of Romani women, the research revealed widespread discrimination and disadvantages for Hungarian Roma, and Romani women in particular. As victims of multiple discrimination, Romani women experience barriers in accessing equal education, health care and adequate housing, as well as facing high unemployment levels, and experiencing barriers in accessing justice through administrative or institutional channels.

Some of the most pressing issues addressed in the report include:

Violence against Women: 42% of the women that responded to questions in this area had suffered or currently suffer from domestic abuse. Only 20% of these women had contacted the police, and in only 1 case did the police respond effectively. Romani women also noted a climate of mutual distrust between the police and their community, as well as a general inability to access legal remedies. In some cases, police officers blatantly ignored the requests of abused women who sought help.

Education: Though Roma in general have lower levels of educational attainment than the majority population in Hungary, the education attainment levels of Romani women are even lower. Those Romani girls who do overcome pervasive barriers to accessing education (such as extreme poverty and early childbirth) face ridicule, physical and verbal abuse, and often receive a lower quality of education. Further, Romani girls are disproportionately placed in schools for the mentally disabled or segregated classes due to administrative bias.

Unemployment: Romani women face higher rates of unemployment than both the general population and Romani men, due to a combination of childcare responsibilities and widespread discrimination by employers. Sixty-two percent of the respondents were unemployed; over 1 in 5 reported direct discrimination on the basis of their gender and/or ethnicity during the application process, including outright acknowledgments by employers of a blanket policy to refuse jobs to all Roma.

Health Care: Romani individuals have a life expectancy 10 years less than the average in Hungary. Many Romani women reported being unable to access medical care due to newly implemented "visiting fees", which are unaffordable due to high levels of poverty. In addition, Romani women experience segregation and substandard care in maternity wards, extortion and discrimination by health care professionals, and several instances of forced sterilisation were documented.

In addition to the human rights concerns noted above, the report also highlights problems related to the extremely substandard housing situation of Romani women, concerns about the over-representation of Romani children in state child care facilities in Hungary and the over-representation of Romani women in the Hungarian prison system.

The full text of the ERRC’s parallel report is available on the Internet at: http://www.errc.org/cikk.php?cikk=2136.

The report was prepared with financial assistance from the Hungarian National Civil Foundation.

For more information, please contact:

Ostalinda Maya Ovalle, ERRC Women’s Rights Officer: ostalinda.maya@errc.org.
Tara Bedard, ERRC Projects Manager: tara.bedard@errc.org


Challenge discrimination, promote equality


Receive our public announcements Receive our Roma Rights Journal


The latest Roma Rights news and content online

join us

Find out how you can join or support our activities