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Foster care Portraits help ‘stolen children’ reclaim their lives

A series of photographs showing in the Swiss capital Bern tell the story of Switzerland’s ‘discarded children’.

The portraits of 25 people by photographer Peter Klaunzer at Bern’s Käfigturm exhibition space illustrate a controversial chapter in recent Swiss history.

Up until the 1970s children put in foster care were often put to work on farms without any compensation. Many were abused. In September last year, the Swiss parliament approved CHF300 million ($304 million) in compensation for the surviving victims.

All of the 25 men and women depicted were placed in foster care as children, and forced to work on farms or in factories. Only a few have any good childhood memories. They were often the victims of violence or sexual abuse.

Switzerland ended the practice in 1981 after ratifying the European Convention on Human Rights.  

(Text: Christian Raaflaub,

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