Update: 07.12.2006

Violence is no solution: Many women affected by domestic violence in Switzerland

One in five women in Switzerland falls victim to domestic violence at least once in her life – including threats, blackmail, beatings and sexual violence. Domestic violence is a violation of human rights. On November 25, 2006, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, Swiss groups were active to raise awareness of the public. In his message for the day, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said that «when it comes to violence against women, there are no civilised societies». On November 27, the Council of Europe (CoE) launched its Campaign to Combat Violence against Women including Domestic Violence that will run until 2008 in Madrid.

Domestic violence in Switzerland is more frequent than one would expect

Three out of four victims of violence are attacked by family members or people within their social circle, according to Swiss victim support centres. Family killings account for 58% of all murders in Switzerland, compared with 20% in the US (Swiss National Science Foundation). The federal authorities point out that the Federal Equality Office supports women's shelters and advice centres on domestic violence.

Following a legal amendment in 2004 police are now allowed to prosecute cases of domestic abuse even without an official complaint from the victim. But concerns have been raised by some non-governmental organisations that there is a severe shortage of beds in refuges for battered women and that not enough is being done to combat domestic violence.

Council of Europe Campaign

«Violence against women, including domestic violence, is one of the most serious form of gender-based violations of human rights. It deprives women of their fundamental rights and freedoms and represents a serious obstacle to equality between women and men». The CoE observes that it is one of the most serious and pervasive forms of violence against women; it exists in all CoE member states and occurs at all levels of society. The Campaign aims to make the public aware of the extent of violence to women and to encourage new laws and practices to stop violence.

Together with other human rights organisations, Amnesty International also launched a «Stop Violence against Women» World Campaign.

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