Relative Status of Men and Women

Although women and men have enjoyed equal status under the law since the late 1940s, in real-life situations men usually have a distinct advantage. They make more money than women do, they hold the top positions in government, business, education, and almost all other public arenas, and they are the authority figures in most households. As Hungary is a predominately Catholic country, men make up the entire leadership in religious circles, although a minority in most congregations.

Society and the law also tend to ignore male violence against women, whether in marriage or not, and whether it includes rape, battery, and/or psychological violence. According to one Hungarian study, most Hungarian women and girls have experienced sexual harassment or humiliation, rape, or some other kind of mental or physical abuse at the hands of one or more men. This occurs in the home, at school, at work, and on the streets, so that there are few places in which many Hungarian women generally feel safe (Bollobas, 1993). In addition, threats and violence against women are largely supported by Hungarian gender ideologies. According to Toth (1999a), 25% of women in Hungary believe that women are responsible for rape, 45% do not know that rape can occur in marriage, 41% of women with less than an eighth-grade education believe that wife-beating should not be punished, and 65% of women who have been raped or the victim of some other violence are so ashamed that they never report it.

One of the few areas in which women do have an advantage over men is in retaining custody of children and holding onto apartments when a couple divorces. Because women are seen by Hungarian society largely in terms of motherhood, mothers rarely lose custody of their children, even if their ex-husbands could provide equal or better child-rearing. In addition, because they retain custody of children, women are also better situated for holding onto a couple's house or flat upon divorce. In 1996, only 10% of all homeless people in Hungary were women (Pongracz & Toth, 1999). A second area in which women are currently better situated than men is their ability to remain economically active. While men who are working tend to make more money than similarly situated women, fewer women are unemployed (Szalai, 1998).

Pregnancy And Childbirth

Pregnancy And Childbirth

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