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Violence against women Shelters for victims of domestic violence struggle with capacity issues

Illustrative picture of domestic violence

The UN says that one in three women and girls experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetime, most frequently by an intimate partner.

(Keystone / Maurizio Gambarini)

Switzerland's 19 women's shelters had to turn away nearly 500 requests last year due to the lack of space or staff, a Swiss newspaper has reported. 

The SonntagsZeitung report on Sunday was based on a study by the Conference of Cantonal Directors of Social Affairs (CDASexternal link), which showed that overall one in two Swiss women were turned away from shelters for victims of abuse last year. 

A total of 487 applications for protection were refused in 2018, out of a total of 1,771, due to the lack of space or staff. But 806 others were not admitted for other reasons.

Consequently, almost half of all applications were rejected, and only 41% of those women were able to find a place in another shelter. The others ended up in shelters without protection or care, or simply remained in the places they were seeking to leave. 

The 965 people who secured a place in one of the 19 shelters stayed there for an average of 37 days. 

The Cantonal Directors of Social Affairs held their annual meeting on Thursday and Friday in Heiden, canton Aargau, in the presence of justice and police minister Karin Keller-Sutter, where they discussed measures to prevent violence against women and domestic violence in general. The CDAS has been asked to prepare recommendations on these issues.

Keystone-SDA/sb

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