Tension is mounting in Hungary following recent legislation dubbed the “slave law” allowing employers to ask staff to work up to 8 extra hours per week and delay payment for this work for as long as three years. Protestors and police clashed in Budapest in December sparking riots and global attention. This legislation is commonly viewed as part of the wider aim of prime minister Viktor Orbán to implement far-right-wing policy across the nation.
His conservative policies are the root of much of the suffering for the social sciences, which are generally regarded as proponents of left-wing, humanitarian, and liberal thought. This August, Viktor Orbán signed a decree which withdrew funding for the Gender Studies MA programme in the Eötvös Loránd University, and the Central European University. These institutions were the only two universities which offered a Gender Studies course at a graduate level in Hungary. His deputy justified the withdrawal by remarking that Gender Studies was “an ideology not a science” and that there were too few employment opportunities for graduates to warrant government funding.
Although statistics are difficult to locate on the specific employability of graduates there is no evidence that these students are less likely to find work than graduates of other humanities and social sciences fields, none of which were cut.
In a statement to STAND, 24-year-old Hungarian woman Dorina Jiling noted with distaste that “I’m not surprised that this happened” calling Hungary’s prime minister a “racist fascist.” She expressed passionate support for the “riots and protests [that] have finally started for all the sh** he’s been doing.”
This cut, which many have viewed as an outright banning of Gender Studies, implicitly silences the practise of feminist thought. Jiling asked “how are you supposed to solve a problem if you can’t even debate it fairly” and expressed a fear of voicing her own views due to “the likeliness of being beaten to a pulp.”
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