Switzerland

Population size: 

8,656,428 [1]

Number of people experiencing domestic abuse each year:

19,669 reported domestic offences in 2019, up 6% from year before in which 18,522 offences were reported. [2]

Around 75% of perpetrators were men, around 70% of victims were women [3]

Cost of domestic abuse to the economy each year:

In 2013, the Federal Office for Gender Equality, estimated a cost of CHF 164-287 million per year [4]

Estimated % change due to COVID-19:

The national figures do not yet show an increase in domestic violence. Calls in Biel have so far decreased but other victim support organisations have reported an increase. [5]

But it would seem likely in line with other countries [also UNFPA projections] that the numbers have increased. [6]


Current law and policy:

There does not appear to be any specific provision tailored to create specific criminal penalties or civil remedies attaching to situations of domestic violence. Relevant legal provisions are instead located across both domestic and international instruments. 

Neither the Swiss Civil nor Criminal Codes provide specific offences protecting against domestic violence. Article 28b of the Swiss Civil Code does however provide an avenue for victims to seek orders from the court restraining individuals from certain acts or forcing persecutors to leave shared dwellings.[7] Art 55a of the Swiss Criminal Code allows the public prosecutor discretion to suspend proceedings where a victim of common assault is the spouse, registered partner of the offending party, requests the suspension, and suspension appears appropriate in order to stabilise or improve the victim’s situation. [8]


Switzerland has however taken steps to improve the legal situation of foreign national women married to Swiss citizens by including domestic violence in the list of reasons available to justify renewal of a residence permit despite divorce or separation - although there remain barriers to asserting these rights in practice. In particular, Amnesty International state: “cantonal authorities rarely make use in favour of the victims of the significant discretion they have under the FNA. Migrant women who are not able to provide a medical certificate or a police report attesting violence - because of fear of their husband or lack of knowledge of the Swiss judicial system – may not be able to get much protection from the state.” [9]


 

Sources


[1] Worldometer, “Switzerland Population (Live)”, (worldometers.info)

[2] https://www.bfs.admin.ch/bfs/en/home/statistics/crime-criminal-justice/police/domestic-violence.html

[3] https://www.watson.ch/schweiz/coronavirus/157473663-in-quarantaene-verpruegelt-frauenhaeuser-erhalten-wegen-corona-mehr-anfragen

[4] https://rm.coe.int/168059aa22

[5] https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/abuse_coronavirus-is-a-nightmare-for-domestic-violence-victims/45666140

[6] https://www.euro.who.int/en/health-topics/disease-prevention/alcohol-use/news/news/2020/06/the-rise-and-rise-of-interpersonal-violence-an-unintended-impact-of-the-covid-19-response-on-families

[7] CC 210 Swiss Civil Code of 10 December 1907

[8] https://www.admin.ch/opc/en/classified-compilation/19370083/index.html#a55a

[9] Switzerland: Better safeguards needed to protect human rights