human rights

Number of victims of domestic violence doubled in five years, sexual offenses also on the rise in Hungary

Although a recurring narrative in Hungarian government communications is that they are cracking down on violence against women, data from the police show that the situation in Hungary has not improved since the government moved from the Istanbul Convention to its own solutions to protect women. According to police data, the number of crimes related to relationship violence has increased significantly in five years, but only a third of the cases brought to the attention of the authorities ended in indictment. Statistics on domestic and sexual violence and sexual coercion are also presented in infographics.

According to estimates, domestic violence claims the life of one woman a week, with around 50 victims a year, but the Hungarian authorities do not give exact figures. However, a FOI request provides details on how the numbers of domestic violence – which mainly affects women – have evolved over the years and how effectively the police have investigated sexual violence and coercion.

More and more victims

In February, we submitted a FOI request to the Hungarian Police (ORFK) to find out more about how the number of victims of relationship and sexual violence has evolved over the past five years. Police data shows that

the number of victims of domestic violence has doubled in five years.

The number of victims of sexual offences has also increased compared to 2019, last year saw a minimal decrease compared to 2022 data.

The overwhelming majority of victims of all three crimes were female, while males made up a higher proportion of perpetrators in the statistics.


The difference between the number of offenders and the number of victims may be explained by the fact that some offenders committed the crime against several persons in the same year, for example against their spouse and their child.

In most cases of domestic violence, the partner is the perpetrator

In the last five years, police recorded 3,354 people as victims of domestic violence. The vast majority of victims were recorded as having been committed by a former or current partner.

Last year, 60.9 percent of victims of domestic violence were in a married or cohabiting relationship with the perpetrator at the time of the offence or before.

For sexual violence, the same proportion was 6.2 percent, and for sexual coercion, 0 – meaning there were no cases where the former or current partner committed the crime.


In the last five years, the proportion is similar: 54.4 percent of victims of relationship violence, 5.1 per cent of victims of sexual violence, and 2.6 per cent of victims of sexual coercion were in a partnered relationship with the perpetrator.

The number of domestic violence committed by a former or current spouse or partner increased by 13% in 5 years.

One in seven crimes between relatives is domestic violence

Last year, 7654 crimes against relatives were recorded by the police. One in seven cases was classified as relationship violence.

The statistics for the last five years show that crimes against relatives were mostly in the categories of assault, child endangerment, and harassment. The number of cases involving the latter two increased most in recent years.


One way to prevent domestic violence may be temporary preventive injunction, which is ordered by the police for 72 hours.

According to the data of the Hungarian Police, the number of restraining orders has typically been around 1,000 to 2,000 in the last seven years. This number rose steadily until 2022 but decreased from last year.


Few cases end in indictment

In our article last year, we wrote in detail about the most pressing problems with domestic victim assistance, according to experts. Two NGOs, NANE and the Patent Association calculate that there are far more women in relationships where they are victims of physical, and sexual violence than the official statistics, at around 226,000. Moreover, 2.4 thousandths of cases of sexual violence against women are reported to the Hungarian police. This means there is a huge latency, with a significant proportion of crimes never coming to the attention of the police.

The latency is not the only problem in the system, the effectiveness of police investigations into sexual offences and domestic violence can also be an important indicator.

The data shows that in the last five years, just under a third (29%) of prosecutions for the three offences have resulted in an indictment.

The most common outcome was the termination of the investigation, with 52% of cases ending this way. Fifteen per cent of proceedings ended in a dismissal of the charges.


The most effective cases investigated by the police were sexual violence offences, with 34 percent of cases ending in an indictment since 2019. For domestic violence, the rate is 27.5 per cent, and for sexual coercion, it is only 24.4 per cent.

The government says there is no need for the Istanbul Convention

The Istanbul Convention, which aimed to prevent and eliminate violence against women and domestic violence, was adopted in 2011. It was signed by the EU in 2017 and has been ratified by 39 countries – the number of countries that have transposed its content into law. The exceptions are Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Lithuania, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic, which are still in the process of signing.

Although Hungary signed the treaty on 14 March 2014, it has not yet ratified it and is unlikely to do so soon. In May 2020, the Hungarian Parliament voted by a two-thirds majority to reject ratification, following a KDNP proposal. Former Justice Minister Judit Varga – who recently accused her ex-husband of domestic violence – wrote in 2020 about the Istanbul Convention that the Hungarian legal system “provides women with more stringent and more prominent protection than EU practice”. And a year earlier, she called the convention a “political hysteria”.

Hungary is not the only country to protect women differently: Turkey was the first to ratify the convention and the first to withdraw from it in 2021.  In 2020, Poland also announced its intention to withdraw from the convention, but the new government has said it is committed to the convention.

Written and translated by Krisztián Szabó and Zita Szopkó. The original, Hungarian version of this story can be found here.