Domestic Violence Case, A.T. v. Hungary, Examined Under Optional Protocol to CEDAW
Monday, April 4, 2005 9:35 AM

On 26 January 2005, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women assessed a claim brought by a Hungarian woman and victim of domestic violence. The claim alleged that Hungary violated the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women due to its failure to provide the woman with effective protection from her former common law husband.

In her claim, the Hungarian woman described a pattern of severe domestic violence to which her former husband subjected her. Armed with a firearm and habitually drunk, the former husband caused the hospitalization of the woman on a number of occasions, succeeded in breaking into the apartment where the woman and her children reside, and persistently threatened to rape and kill the woman and her children, one of whom is severely brain damaged.

The woman has been unable to escape such violence. Although shelters exist in Hungary, they do not accommodate disabled children so the woman felt she could not seek shelter therein. The woman has reported such abuse to the state on numerous occasions and has brought numerous criminal charges of domestic violence against her husband through the Hungarian judicial system. Such complaints have failed to persuade the State to take adequate steps to protect the woman. After exhausting all local remedies, the woman turned to the Committee for help.

After consideration of her claim, the Committee agreed with the woman that Hungary had failed to live up to its positive obligations to provide the woman with the requisite protection under the CEDAW. To remedy the situation, it recommended that the Hungarian Government take immediate and effective measures to secure the protection of the woman and her children by providing her with appropriate child support and legal aid as well as reparations for physical and mental harm she suffered. It also recommended that the Government take the necessary steps to protect Hungarian women in general against domestic violence. For example, it suggested that the Government enact legislation, provide training on the requirements of CEDAW for all judges, lawyers, and law enforcement officials, ensure prompt investigations of allegations of domestic violence and most importantly, provide women with access to the judicial system, as well as rehabilitation services.

It remains to be seen whether the Hungarian Government will actually act on the recommendations.

Please click here to read the case.

Compiled from: Views of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women under article 7, paragraph 3, of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, Communication No.: 2/2003, Ms. A.T. v. Hungary, 26 January 2005.