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Some Swiss cantons are ill-prepared for new sex offences legislation

Leonore Porchet, National Councillor GP-VD, left, and Elisabeth Baume-Schneider, State Councillor SP-JU, stand together with supporters holding signs at the submission of signatures for the petition "Only yes means yes", on Monday, 21 November 2022 in Bern.
With the revised criminal law on sexual offences, any non-consensual penetration, whether oral, vaginal or anal, of a man or woman will be considered rape. Rape will therefore no longer be limited to the sexual act, but will include any similar act involving penetration of the body. Keystone / Peter Klaunzer

Some Swiss cantons, especially in German-speaking Switzerland, are inadequately prepared for the new criminal law on sexual offences which will be implemented from July 1. According to a think tank, there is a lack of support for victims and shortfalls in the securing of evidence, among other things.

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The think tank Reatch reported on Monday that there is a lack of training and further education regarding the new law, particularly for police and hospital specialists. In collaboration with the think tank, a research group conducted a survey of cantonal administrations and professional associations on this topic.

+ Switzerland will enforce new definition of rape from July

With the revised criminal law on sexual offences, which comes into force on July 1, the principle of “no means no” now applies. Rape is therefore deemed to have occurred if a victim has made their refusal clear, for example through words, gestures or if the victim is petrified with fear and is unable to express their refusal or defend themselves. It is no longer necessary for the victim to fight back.

German-speaking Switzerland lags behind

According to the report, the cantons of Bern, Jura, Uri, Vaud and Valais have already taken the necessary measures to implement the revised law or are in the process of doing so. In other cantons, however, including Appenzell Outer Rhodes, Glarus and Obwalden, hardly any efforts have been made, the researchers stated in their report.

The bottom line is that the cantons in French-speaking Switzerland are much further advanced with relevant measures than German-speaking Switzerland.

+ How a new definition of rape could impact Swiss law

The report shows that in addition to problems in securing evidence, victims often have to coordinate between the relevant contact centres and authorities, and there is a lack of trust in the latter. Furthermore, the data available on the topic of sexualised violence in Switzerland is poor and there are many rape myths in society. There is also a lack of options for male victims, with support primarily focussed on women, the report said.

Adapted from German by DeepL/dkk/sb

This news story has been written and carefully fact-checked by an external editorial team. At SWI we select the most relevant news for an international audience and use automatic translation tools such as DeepL to translate it into English. Providing you with automatically translated news gives us the time to write more in-depth articles.

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