The charge of sexual harassment used as a political tool? The Henrik Havas case

Unlike in the United States, the #metoo movement in Hungary seemed to have died a quiet death after three cases. But then, after a few weeks of hiatus, another case surfaced. The newly accused is Henrik Havas, a prominent member of the ATV staff. Havas is a controversial character whose programs apparently have a large following. I am not one of his admirers. I consider him an insufferable braggart whose veracity is at times questionable. He is a man who often talks about women in a disparaging way, which he claims is just funny. Through the years, I have come to the conclusion that he has more than an ambivalent attitude toward Gypsies and feels uneasy about his own relationship with and opinions of Jews.

Havas has published scores of books on a range of topics, like life in prison, women in the porn industry, and higher-class prostitutes. A few months ago Havas published a book about Gábor Vona, chairman of Jobbik, an initially anti-Semitic and racist party that lately has been making efforts to move closer to the center. Jobbik is the strongest opposition party facing Viktor Orbán’s Fidesz. In the last year or so it has become evident that Viktor Orbán considers Jobbik a threat, and therefore a series of base personal attacks were directed against Vona. The dirty work was done by pro-Fidesz tabloids like 888.hu, Riposzt, and lately, Origo.

Vona was apparently flattered that Havas, whose political views are a far cry from his own, was interested in him. As he put it in an interview with Magyar Nemzet, the fact that Havas chose him to be the subject of his next book “means something politically significant. He could have picked Bernadett Szél or Gergely Karácsony,” the other two candidates for the post of prime minister.

The book launch was to take place on December 6, where both Havas and Vona were to be present. The great day arrived, but in the last minute Havas canceled. The reason for his absence was an accusation of sexual molestation by Éva Baukó, a participant on a reality show, ValóVilág (Real World), aired off and on by RTL Klub. Havas justified missing the event by claiming that “the pro-government media created a political event out of a simple book launch.”

At the book launch Gábor Vona argued that this attack on Havas is really “an assault on Jobbik.” He called the accusation against Havas “political terrorism” initiated in order to spread fear. As he put it, “You want to write a book about Gábor Vona? Then we will do you in.”

Actually, there was nothing new in the accusation. In 2012 Baukó accused Havas of demanding anal sex, which she refused and quit the show. However, the blog writer who commented on the interview at the time noted that Baukó was dead drunk and incoherent and that the story was utterly unbelievable. The interview was aired on TV, but no one paid the slightest attention to it. It was this accusation that was warmed up by Ripost.hu and later by TV2, which is owned by American-Hungarian producer Andy Vajna. This time she added more details, which included Havas’s offer to pay rent on an apartment and to give her monthly financial assistance. She admitted that there was no physical molestation but said that Havas fired her from the show. After the initial article in Riposzt, all government publications picked up the story, the most active being Origo. I haven’t counted them all, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there have been at least 30-40 articles on the Havas affair.

Two days later a former participant on the ValóVilág show and a friend of Baukó claimed that Baukó’s newly released confession was actually staged and that Baukó received money for the warmed-up story about Havas. He told the reporter that TV2 was behind the attack on Havas. At this point, neither Havas nor ATV took the charge seriously.

But on December 8 another woman, Anikó Molnár, also accused Havas of sexual harassment. Molnár was also a participant on ValóVilág. Havas wrote a book about her titled “The Star, the Loser, and Who Was Looking for Her Mother,” published in 2009. Molnár told stories from her life, which Havas retold in the book. She recalled that Havas sent her a vibrator, which Havas doesn’t deny but claims it was just a joke. Apparently, in the intervening years the relationship between the two soured and not long ago Havas called Molnár a “gold-digger.” At this point, ATV decided to suspend his programs, and management said it would pursue an “internal investigation.”

And then a third woman appeared, a much more credible source–Zita Görög, a model and actress. She and Havas were involved in a television cooking show which included a dinner scene where under the table Havas approached her in an inappropriate manner. In fact, on live TV she turned to Havas and told him “not to touch my hands and thighs! Seriously, this is humiliating.” Havas has an explanation for this scene too. Apparently, there was another female member at the table and, according to Havas, “these two women were playing roles.” The other was nice and friendly, while Zita Görög was playing the elegant lady “who occasionally was hysterical.” At this point, ATV removed all of Havas’s shows from its video archives.

Since then, Origo came up with another story about an unnamed woman business associate of Havas, and in one article Origo made not so veiled references to Havas having been an informer in the Kádár regime.

Do Havas’s troubles stem from writing a book about Gábor Vona? Perhaps. But ATV will undoubtedly find it difficult, if not impossible, not to go after Havas since they were outraged when László Marton and Gábor Kerényi, two theater directors, were found to have sexually abused women. There are, however, a lot of doubts on the left. Many people find it difficult to believe that there is no connection between Havas’s book on Gábor Vona and the accusations of sexual harassment against him. I’m sitting on the fence.

December 13, 2017
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Member

If there is one general quality that can characterize the larger portion of the Hungarian population is a short span of attention to issues and the swift sweeping under the carpet the unpleasant ones. These are some of the reasons, while crimes can be commited without consequences. A few criminals at the beginning get some punishment, the rest of them gets away without it and everybody coninues to do everything the same way as before.

Guest

Rather OT – but almost uplifting in a way:
One of those accused of sexual harassment, a special “Christian Priest” in Alabama just shot himself – he also was the one who called Michelle Obama an “ape” …
http://www.wdrb.com/story/37062873/kentucky-state-rep-dan-johnson-commits-suicide-on-bridge-in-mt-washington
An unbelievable lunatic, typical representative of the conservative US Fundamentalists!
Somtimes I think that it would be nice if others followed him …

Member

Wolfi, wishing death upon people – especially people you have no clue about – makes you equally as bad as Orban.

Your comment is rife with inaccuracies. The most offensive one is that this lunatic is typical of US conservative fundamentalists. This shows that you know very little about American Christians, but you choose to foment hatred anyway.

Your misguided attitude solidifies Orban’s and Trump’s grip on power.

Guest

Alex, did you read the article I linked to?
From the corresponding report on snopes:
The sexual assault accusations against Johnson were revealed as a sexual harassment scandal involving four other Republican lawmakers was unfolding at the state Capitol. Former Republican House Speaker Jeff Hoover resigned his leadership position after acknowledging he secretly settled a sexual harassment claim with a member of his staff. Three other lawmakers were involved in the settlement, and all lost their committee chairmanships.
So this was not an isolated case – just as all (!) leaders of the German CSU became only leaders after having illegitimate children – DAISNAID, you know that expression?
I call this typical – and remarks about “apes in the WH” I’ve seen on German/US forums even. What should I call these people in your opinion?

Istvan
Guest

I suspect the flood gates will eventually open in Hungary and women will come forward with their harassment claims against public figures in mass. Alabama in the USA is every bit as sexually repressive as rural Hungary and the revolt there really has been dramatic there. Just yesterday a member of the State of Kentucky legislature shot himself after being accused of sexually assaulting a teenage girl in the basement of his home.

What is happening with the #me too movements is that women are seizing the opportunity to reset the basis for civility in male female relationships in the USA. If women anywhere need to hit the reset button it is in Hungary. As was the case in reactionary Alabama that process can be very ugly for the women who come forward. It will impact both the right and left of the political spectrum as it has here.

wrfree
Guest

Re: ‘If women anywhere need to hit the reset the button it is in Hungary’

As more and more revelations of lewd conduct occur I am sure as well that those floodgates will not contain the vociferous upheaval in the culture. And that rejection of ‘how things are’ certainly must have implications for the society in the political realm especially when it comes to disturbing ‘power’ relationships.

The attack and the aggressive questioning of women have now introduced another aspect of relating to ‘authority’, an authority which is of predation. They are now re-drawing boundaries and providing food for thought in all kinds of relationships that individuals get involved in as they live their lives. They are changing attitudes ….and perhaps more importantly getting results.

Jean P
Guest

The meetoo campaign is unbalanced. Many women in jobs dress up in an exaggerated way they very well know attracts men sexually. Some men don’t realize that they are only teasing. There wouldn’t be so many meetoo victims if women wouldn’t play that game.

Istvan
Guest

Well I saw that game in the US Army when most of the time we were all in uniforms. There is no question that there are women who flirt with authority figures and help create dangerous dynamics in a wide variety of workplaces. More commonly its men who initiate flirting, than women however, and that now can be considered to be sexual harassment. I think we are in a situation now at least here in the USA where the relations in the workplace between the sexes are becoming much more formalized.

Men and women who are executives or in the case of the military ranking officers are now thinking twice about all of these dynamics in the workplace. The liability issues are now very significant. There are a lot more open office doors when men and women are meeting together than there were a year ago in the USA.

petofi
Guest

Quite so, Jean P.

Now that it’s fashionable, the angry, and often rejected, women are coming out of the woodwork to wreck revenge on men.

Women often traded on sex, and in many fields. Often, it was the women who initiated the unfair tactics; so cry not ladies.

The boxer, Tyson, got 6 years when the lady who had accepted his late-night invitation to his room, was, supposedly, molested. What the hell did she think they were going to do? Play scrabble…?

Observer
Guest

Jean P.
Agreed.
Harassment is a very elusive, fluid and cultural thing to define, e.g. picture the old cliche of youngsters whistling and touching tight behinds and the girls are happily giggling, mocking indignation with broad smiles, or the new cliche of smart man/women exchanges with explicit sexual references and expressions, which would have abhorred the public before 1968. It’s unrealistic to judge behavior of 20-30-40 years ago by today’s standards.

The “only teasing” acts, are actually acts of inviting sexual attention (e.g. sexy outfits of beautiful Bauko) or encouraging behavior (e.g. movie Jodie Foster, the ludicrous Tyson case, etc). Often it is difficult to determine where teasing, flattering, flirting ends and harassment begins, particularly in someone else’s mind. Actions have probable consequences everyone should be aware of, e.g. if a lady is talking about a man’s tight buttocks, she shouldn’t claim his admiration of her breasts to be a sexual harassment.
Give everyone a fair trial.

petofi
Guest

The ugliness of political correctness:

Look at what happened to Al Franken. Nothing has been proven.
There was just a joke photo. The ridiculous Democrats have forced him to resign to appear ‘holier-than-thou’ to the electorate.
The Republicans must be celebrating: Franken was one of the best and most hard-working of Senators, and probably with a future as Presidential material. Total ridiculousness.

Observer
Guest

Faith, organized religion, moral norms, ideology, conformism, peer pressure, political correctness – all pretty intertwined. Populists’ avenue to authoritarian power.

nvtln
Guest
Oh come on, Momentum the party of the future? The only thing that sticks about them is that they want to be the only party in parliament… Also that they are one of the myriad of micro-parties that aren’t in the government. I also read with astonishment how many people are eating up Vonas St. Nicholas stunt. Thanks to Fidesz, we might just have this really crypto-fascist party being seen as a democratic, reformer party by the time the election comes in april. And you really know they are crypto-fascists just by the fact that they had to kick some influential people who opened their mouths, since Vona said that hate speech against jews and gypsies are uncool (for the moment). I always wonder though, even if Vona is the spineless political opportunist he seems to be, is it even possible that his party could be ever as ‘center’ as Fidesz is they are closest to the meat pot? I think not… In my personal opinion, there seems to be very few words spoken about the party, which in my mind uses communication worthy of reformers after Fidesz, and also has some presence in parliament, that is LMP. In a… Read more »