Violence strikes 40 per cent of Swiss women

Alcohol was found to be one of the factors that increased violence. RDB

Almost four out of ten Swiss women have suffered some sort of physical, psychological or sexual violence, according to a report.

This content was published on December 10, 2004 - 13:16

A study by Lausanne University found that sexual violence was particularly rife, with one in ten women having been the victim of rape or attempted rape.

The report was published on Friday by the university’s School of Criminal Sciences. It was compiled as part of a United Nations survey into violence against women in 30 countries.

For the Swiss study, the authors asked 1,975 women between the ages of 18 and 70 about their experiences.

In all, more than a quarter said they had been the victim of sexual violence and nearly one in five said they had suffered physical abuse.

The report’s authors – among them eminent criminologist Martin Killias – said the annual figures for rape or attempted rape were normally quite low, but taken over a lifetime they made up a large minority that should not be ignored.

The study also found that 75 per cent of attacks on women, particularly cases of sexual violence, were perpetrated by unknown assailants.

Partners and ex-partners

Partners, and especially ex-partners, were responsible for the remaining 25 per cent of incidents, which consisted mainly of physical or verbal abuse.

Those with a higher education and income tended to be less violent towards women, observed the authors.

Among those who were violent, many had a tendency to use force outside the home. A high proportion were foreigners or drug or alcohol abusers.

The study found that childhood abuse could only partially explain the levels of violence found in the survey.

Not all men who had witnessed violence as a child went on to become aggressors, said the authors.

Domestic violence

Comparisons with other countries in the study show that the amount of domestic violence appears to be higher in Switzerland than in Australia, the Czech Republic and Denmark – the only other nations for which figures were available.

Previous studies have shown that an estimated one in five women suffers from domestic violence.

A new law that came into force on April 1 this year now makes it easier to prosecute perpetrators of domestic violence by allowing the police to prosecute without an official complaint from the victim.

swissinfo with agencies

In brief

The report was based on interviews with 1,975 women in Switzerland between the ages of 18 and 70.

40 per cent of women have been victims of violence during their lifetimes.

This includes sexual, physical and psychological violence.

One in ten women have been the victim of a rape or attempted rape; nearly a fifth have suffered physical abuse.

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