Violence against women and domestic violence: Switzerland’s first state report

Bern, 18.06.2021 - Switzerland’s first state report on the implementation of the Istanbul Convention presents the country’s efforts to prevent and combat violence against women and domestic violence. The Federal Council approved the report on 18 June. The summary of the current situation emphasises the fundamental importance of cooperation between the Confederation, cantons and communes, together with civil society, in order for prevention efforts to succeed.

Violence against women and domestic violence are common in Switzerland and cause significant distress. A woman dies every 2.5 weeks on average due to attacks of this kind, with an estimated 27,000 children also affected by domestic violence every year. These figures having been rising slowly for years, with registered domestic violence offences reaching a new high of 20,123 in 2020.

Switzerland ratified the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (the Istanbul Convention) on 1 April 2018. Joining this treaty obligates countries to make consistent progress in developing their measures on prevention, victim protection and prosecution practices with respect to these forms of violence.

Now Switzerland has published its first state report on the implementation of the Istanbul Convention. State reports are intended to provide the Council of Europe with regular insight into the progress that member states are making in implementing the Istanbul Convention. Switzerland’s first state report thus presents a summary of all activities aimed at preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence.

Increased awareness of the issue 

The Istanbul Convention has created new momentum in Switzerland, as combating violence against women and domestic violence has become the focus of political debate. In the 2019–2023 legislature planning, the Federal Council decided to define combating gender-based violence as one of the central areas of action in the 2030 gender equality strategy. In addition, Parliament included a national action plan to implement the Istanbul Convention in the legislature planning. The Confederation and cantons approved a roadmap as part of their strategic dialogues on the topic of domestic violence. The roadmap sets out measures to combat domestic violence, including a central hotline for those affected. Numerous plans of action and measures to implement the Convention were approved at cantonal and communal level.

At national level, starting this year private and public organisations running projects to combat and prevent violence against women can receive financial assistance from the Confederation. The website, which went online in 2019, contributes to protection and support by providing information and assistance to victims of violence.

Generally, Swiss law is able to satisfy the requirements of the Convention. The Federal Act on Improving the Protection of Persons Affected by Violence has been in force since 1 July 2020. The provision on the electronic monitoring of contact prohibitions and exclusion orders under civil law will come into force on 1 January 2022. In addition, at the start of this year the Council of States Legal Affairs conducted consultations on the revision of the law on sex offences. The offence of rape is to be redefined in a gender-neutral way, and it will be made an offence to carry out sexual acts with a person against their will even if no violence or threats are involved. This particular amendment aims to improve the protection given to victims of sexual assault under the criminal law.

The state report clearly demonstrates that the implementation of the Istanbul Convention is a collective responsibility: one requiring various policy areas to join forces, working together with the cantons and communes in consultation with civil society. The Federal Council continues to give top priority to combating violence against women and domestic violence.

Review by independent group of experts 

Switzerland’s first state report will serve as the basis for monitoring by GREVIO (Group of experts on action against violence against women and domestic violence), an independent body. After reviewing the first state report, the group of experts will make an evaluation visit in March 2022 and draw up recommendations for Switzerland by the end of 2022 based on their findings.

Address for enquiries

Sina Liechti
Communication Officer
Federal Office for Gender Equality
Tel. +41 58 467 42 02


The Federal Council

Federal Department of Home Affairs

Federal Department of Justice and Police

Federal Office of Justice

Federal Office for Gender Equality