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Corruption from a gender perspective

Corruption from a gender perspective

Transparency International Hungary and the Hungarian Women’s Lobby examined the relationship of gender and corruption in a policy paper. The results of the study on violence against women, as well as the phenomenon of informal payments in obstetric and gynaecological care were presented on March 26, at an event in Impact Hub in Budapest, by the two authors, Borbála Juhász (Women’s Lobby) and Mirjam Sági (ELTE). Following the presentation, a round-table discussion took place where experts could discuss the findings of the research.

“The most women can buy is the illusion of security” – stated Erika Schmidt, member of the EMMA Association on the topic of obstetric care. Even though obstetric care is free, for many future parents it is worth it to pay as labour could have complications, according to a legal expert in healthcare. At the round-table discussion following the presentation, Fanni Dés (Patent Association), Anna Betlen (Women’s Lobby), Erika Schmidt (EMMA Association), Katalin Lőrincz (Másállapot a Szülészetben Mozgalom – a movement dedicated to protecting women’s autonomy during pregnancy), and Dr Gyula Kincses (former Secretary of State in the Ministry of Health) shared their views on the subject.

The semi-structured interviews conducted with experts revealed that within the two examined areas, corruption is systemic: members of certain social groups exploit members of other social groups, and thus they gain monetary or other illicit benefits. Within the sphere of obstetrics and gynaecology this means that the system forces women to pay up: the parents do not dare take risks, and since everyone else pays, they will pay as well. In many cases they are paying for the mere presence of a doctor, as they believe that “If [the doctor is] not there, something bad will happen to me” – said Katalin Lőrincz, member of Másállapot a Szülészetben Mozgalom during the discussion after the presentation.

The findings in the policy paper of TI-Hungary and Women’s Lobby show that even though 94% of doctors reject the system of informal payments, 61% of them still feel that they must accept them. In 2014, according to KSH’s research we spent 8.3 billion HUF in informal payments, of which 4.1 billion HUF went into the pockets of hospital workers. Informal payments are especially prevalent in obstetrics, which is caused by, amongst other reasons, the fact that the care as well as its quality is unpredictable, the waiting lists are long, and according to Gyula Kincses, member of 1001 Orvos Hálapénz Nélkül (a movement aiming to eliminate the existence of informal payments in healthcare) and former Secretary of State in the Ministry of Health, with informal payments women “want to buy the trust and individuality which they do not receive in healthcare services.” The fact that their chosen doctor pays attention to them increases their sense of security, however, according to Lőrincz, the doctor “has nothing to do [with the delivery], as this is the competency of midwives.” Moreover, the delivery is not necessarily safer with the chosen doctor there, as it might be that the night before “they were on duty and they show up after being awake for 36 hours, whilst labour can last for a day”, but “they feel … that they must do something since they were given payment” – added Lőrincz.

The policy paper published at the event can be reached here in Hungarian, while an English summary can be accessed at this address.

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