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Covid-19: Swiss take part in EU domestic violence discussions

Interior Minister Alain Berset speaks to Franziska Giffey, German Federal Minister for Family Affairs, during an informal meeting of EU Gender Equality Ministers on Friday Keystone / Alessandro Della Valle

Ministers, including from Switzerland, have been holding online talks on preventing domestic violence against women, which has been on the rise since the start of Covid-19 pandemic.

This content was published on November 20, 2020 - 16:50
Keystone-SDA/Interior Ministry/swissinfo.ch/ilj

Interior Minister Alain Berset took part in the European Union Conference on Gender Equality, held by videoconference, at the invitation of Germany, which is holds the presidency of the Council of the European Union. Switzerland is not a member of the EU.

Berset used the opportunity to present Switzerland’s efforts to deal with domestic violence, a Swiss interior ministry statement said on Friday.

The government and the cantons launched a special task force against domestic violence in March. The coronavirus pandemic has increased the risk factors that lead to domestic violence such as stopping people from leaving the house and increased financial concerns as the economy suffers, the statement said.

“Domestic violence has to be fought consistently and if someone is violent, they have to face the consequences, even and especially during times of crisis,” Berset was quoted as saying.

The meeting debated setting up a Europe-wide domestic violence helpline number, a move that was endorsed by the majority of equality ministers from EU and EFTA countries, a conference communique said.

On the rise

Swiss police registered 19,669 cases of domestic violence in 2019, up 6.2% on the previous year. 

Twenty-nine people died in Switzerland in 2019 as a result of domestic violence. This means that two- thirds of all homicides last year were the result of abuse by a partner.

While statistics for 2020 are not yet available, victim support groups have already raised fears that domestic violence may have increased, especially during the spring coronavirus lockdown.  

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