What Hinders Victims from Reporting Sexual Violence: A Qualitative Study with Police Officers, Prosecutors, and Judges in Hungary

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Queensland University of Technology


While rape historically remains underreported all over the globe, and criminal justice factors contribute to this problem, we investigate unique circumstances that might influence reporting inclinations by Hungarian victims of sexual violence. Among other possible factors, victim-blaming, institutional desensitization, and a lack of trust in the criminal justice system and in the community are discussed. The in-depth interviews (n = 22) with law enforcement and criminal justice professionals conducted in 2018 in Hungary reveal roots of underreporting in the complexities of the criminal justice system: there is a failure to prioritize victims’ needs—mental care services, physical and privacy protection—and a focus instead on solely providing legal justice. The further deficits that can be found among professionals’ attitudes and behaviors in the courtroom are products of the following: a lack of standardized protocols in addressing the needs of victims; a dearth of technical and evidence-based knowledge and training; a lack of supervision and trauma-informed services to practitioners; high caseloads; a focus on the goal of high conviction rates; not providing open communication toward victims; and a shortage of standardized protocols in dealing with victims.



1602 Criminology, 1608 Sociology, 1801 Law