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Domestic violence is ‘fairly widespread’ in Switzerland

Men were responsible for three out of four incidents (78%), the gender equality office said Keystone

Swiss police were called out 14,000 times last year – 40 times a day – to deal with cases of domestic violence, the Federal Office of Gender Equality said on Tuesday. It says domestic violence is “fairly widespread” across the country.

One in seven victims were minors, and children were present in half of all police interventions. A total of 9,195 people were charged by the police.

Last year, 36 people were killed during domestic violence incidents, including eight children of pre-school age. Men were responsible for three out of four incidents (78%), the office said.

In all, 1,500 people approached professional consulting services for help. The office said it was crucial to work with those responsible for the violence to ensure children were protected and to prevent the problem shifting to the next generation.

Although 25 of 26 cantons offer domestic violence consultation services, it is rare for the authorities to force people concerned to use them. Cantons Lucerne and Valais are the only regions to have legislation in place obliging individuals to seek help. Vaud is considering such a move.

A national congress on the issue of domestic violence was held in Bern on Tuesday.

UN progress report

Earlier this month Switzerland defended its gender equality record and the situation of women before a United Nations committee in Geneva.

The issue of domestic violence was also raised. The UN committee welcomed efforts to address gender-based violence in Switzerland but said it remained concerned about the high prevalence of violence against women, domestic violence and stalking.

It said the under-reporting of gender-based violence to the police and low prosecution and conviction rates resulted in impunity for perpetrators.

The panel said more shelters and victim services should be available in all cantons. Also, Switzerland should ratify the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (known as the Istanbul Convention) “as a matter of priority”, it added.

Switzerland hopes to ratify the Istanbul Convention by 2018, while the federal bill on improving protection for victims of violence will be submitted to parliament in 2017.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR