Switzerland: higher rate of domestic violence deaths

Domestic violence is a problem in many European countries (posed picture) Keystone / Maurizio Gambarini

The number of women dying as a result of domestic violence is higher in Switzerland than in many other European countries, says Le Matin Dimanche, basing its report on Eurostat statistics.

This content was published on August 25, 2019 - 14:53
Keystone-SDA/Le Matin/Eurostat/RTS/ilj

In 2017, there were 0.40 murders of women per 100,000 women, compared with 0.13 in Greece, 0.27 in Spain, 0.31 in neighbouring Italy and 0.35 for the United Kingdom, according to EurostatExternal link. However, Switzerland’s other neighbours showed a higher rate: France at 0.50 and Germany at 0.55.

Nora Markwalder, assistant professor of criminology at the University of St Gallen, told the newspaperExternal link that in general the murder rate in Switzerland had dropped considerably compared with the 1980s and 1990s, but the fall was a bit less in domestic settings. “Our hypothesis is that the reduction in army numbers at the beginning of the 2000s as well as different legislative measures on keeping better control of arms [at home] have played a role,” she said. Most murders are however committed with knives, she pointed out.

+ Read more about the Swiss gun laws here

Lorella Bertani, a lawyer specializing in helping domestic violence victims, believes that “in terms of statistics, according to age group, domestic violence kills more women than smoking, alcohol and driving”. The murders occur because some men consider women their property, she said. More prevention work is needed, Bertani added, also in teaching boys respect.

More protection

In July the government announced measuresExternal link to better protect victims of domestic violence and stalking. This includes not making the victim solely in charge of whether to pursue criminal proceedings. This would apply especially if the victim is coming under pressure to drop the case. The measures are due to come into effect from July 2020.

According to the Federal Statistical OfficeExternal link, on average one person dies every two weeks from domestic violence in Switzerland (25 people a year, during the period 2009-2018).

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