Federal Council adopts report on the causes of intimate partner homicides against women

Bern, 10.12.2021 - At its meeting of 10 December, the Federal Council adopted the report fulfilling the Graf postulate (19.3618) on causes of female homicide in the home and measures against it. In the report, the Federal Council emphasises the special need for action to reduce domestic homicides and undertakes various preventative measures to this end.

The postulate report, which is based on an externally conducted study, shows that although the number of homicides in Switzerland is low, intimate partner homicides make up a high proportion of all homicides, at approximately 40 per cent. Ninety per cent of victims of intimate partner homicides are women. Switzerland also has a high percentage of intimate partner homicides by international comparison.

Causes and risk factors
The main cause of intimate partner homicides is impending or completed separation or an expressed intention to separate. Other high risk factors include previous domestic violence, overly controlling and jealous behaviour, and stalking. Weapon possession, alcohol and drug use as well as financial difficulties are additional factors that can trigger such homicides. Forty-three per cent of perpetrators had previously been violent at home and were known to the police; one third of these already had a criminal record. In 90 per cent of cases, intimate partner killings
were initiated by men. Forty-four per cent of perpetrators were of foreign nationality, while among the victims it was 37 per cent. One quarter of cases were homicide-suicides, with the perpetrator committing suicide after killing their partner.

Acts of violence must be tackled on a number of different levels
For the Federal Council, combating and preventing serious acts of violence must be approached at various levels. This includes increased preventive measures and early recognition of warning signs, better risk analysis and support of victims of domestic violence as well as addressing perceptions of masculinity that can lead to violence. As part of the implementation of the Istanbul Convention, on 30 April the Confederation, the cantons and civil society organisations adopted a road map to step up the campaign against domestic violence and improve victim protection. As of this year, the Confederation also has three million Swiss francs available annually to support projects preventing and tackling violence against women and domestic violence.

In addition to these ongoing and planned measures, the Federal Council proposes to further reduce the misuse of weapons and raise awareness of domestic violence among health professionals. Some of these new measures will be included and defined in more detail in the National Action Plan implementing the Istanbul Convention.

Supplementary survey on homicide is underway
According to the police crime statistics (PCS), a total of 479 persons were killed in Switzerland from 2011 to 2020. Of these victims, 255 (53%) had a family or intimate relationship with the perpetrator. Of the 147 people killed in an existing or former relationship, 134 (91%) were female. In the same period, firearms were the most common means of committing homicide (31%), followed by knives and other sharp weapons (27%), and physical violence (22%). The Federal Statistical Office (FSO), with the support of the Federal Office for Gender Equality (FOGE), is currently carrying out a supplementary survey on the circumstances, motives and causes of all homicides and attempted homicides. The results are expected to be published in 2025.

Address for enquiries

Sina Liechti, FOGE Communications Officer
+41 58 467 42 04


The Federal Council

General Secretariat FDHA

Federal Office for Gender Equality

Federal Department of Justice and Police