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Most victims of violence know their attackers

A quarter of people who are victims of violence are under 18

(Keystone)

Three out of four victims of violence are attacked by family members or people within their social circle, according to Swiss victim support centres.

A report by the Federal Statistics Office has revealed that in 2005 the number of reported incidents was 27,300 – up from 16,000 in 2000, the first year when figures were recorded.

The number of reported incidents also increased eight per cent on 2004, but the statistics office said that these figures do not necessarily mean the number of violent incidents has increased – only that more victims are going to support centres.

The number of cases of serious acts of violence has stayed relatively stable over the past 20 years but minor physical injuries have significantly increased.

The report, published on Monday, shows that the overwhelming majority of victims are women and children who are repeatedly beaten without the police or authorities being aware of the situation.

Repeat cases

Three-quarters of incidents involving domestic violence are repeat cases.

Almost 75 per cent of victims are women, 60 per cent Swiss and in almost a quarter of cases the victim is under 18.

The most often reported incidents were physical injury (40 per cent of cases) and the sexual abuse of children (16 per cent). The support centres rarely encountered incidents of murder or attempted murder.

When it comes to getting help, over half (54 per cent) of victims are introduced to a support centre through a third party – most often a specialist advisor but also through the police, the courts or through a trusted acquaintance.

The report also revealed that although the centres are dealing with criminal offences, criminal proceedings are only initiated in 45 per cent of cases.

Last year cantonal authorities delivered a verdict on a total of 866 cases concerning compensation, a figure which is six per cent less than in 2000 and 17 per cent down on 2004. Three-quarters of claims were decided in favour of the victims.

swissinfo with agencies

In brief

The federal law for victims of violence applies to anyone who has been harmed - whether physically, psychologically or sexually.

Victims can now demand to speak to advisors who are the same sex as they are. Victims can also claim for compensation.

Rape among married couples only became a punishable offence in 1993.

Until 2004 violence in partnerships could only be prosecuted if charges were filed by the victims.

Since April 2004 prosecutors have brought proceedings against perpetrators even without the victim's consent.

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Key facts

Last year 40 people died in family killings in Switzerland, according to Amnesty International.
One in five women in Switzerland falls victim at least once in her life to domestic violence – including threats, blackmail, beatings and sexual violence.
Family killings account for 58% of all murders in Switzerland, compared with 20% in the US, according to the Swiss National Science Foundation.

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