A new report says Switzerland is not doing enough to protect immigrant women from domestic violence.


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Immigrant women ‘need protection’

A new report says Switzerland is not doing enough to protect immigrant women from domestic violence.


The Swiss Observatory for the Rights of Asylum Seekers and Foreigners said that according to the current national laws, a woman who reunites with her migrant husband in Switzerland must stay married with him for at least three years in order to remain in the country.

In case of abuse, the woman can stay, provided she can bring evidence from either the police or a doctor, a requirement that proves particularly difficult in the cases of isolated women who often do not speak any of the Swiss official languages.  

“The requirement of proof is an often insurmountable barrier,” the Observatory said in a statement.

“If, for fear of their husband or ignorance of the Swiss legal system, migrants do not make police or doctors certify the abuse, their chances are minimal.” The report said that evidence from a women’s shelter centre or the testimony of neighbours are still rarely taken into consideration by the authorities, even though there are signals that this will change in the future.

“We often meet women who continue to stay with their violent husbands so they won’t have to go back to their home country,” said Claudia Hauser of DAO (Organisation faîtière des maisons d’accueil pour femmes de Suisse et du Liechtenstein).

According to the report, figures from the Federal Statistics Office show that 22 women, both immigrant and Swiss, die every year following domestic abuse. Nearly 20 per cent of women living in Switzerland suffer from psychological or sexual violence in their life.

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Should stay-at-home parents in Switzerland be paid a salary?

A new Swiss divorce ruling sparks a proposal that parents who stay at home and take care of children while the other spouse works, should be compensated by the government.

Should stay-at-home parents in Switzerland be paid a salary?
Housework should be compensated by the government, some say. Photo by Guillaume Suivant / AFP

What is the new divorce rule?

Switzerland’s highest court has handed down a decision removing the responsibility of an employed spouse to financially support the partner who has not worked outside of home during marriage.

While the ruling doesn’t mention gender, it particularly affects women.

Specifically, the court lifted the so-called “45-year-old rule”, under which stay-at-home spouses were not obligated to support themselves after divorce, if they were over 45 years old.

In its ruling, the court said that “the possibility of gainful employment must always be assumed” regardless of age, though exemptions could be made in some situations, including care of small children, lack of professional experience, and health.

How has this ruling spawned off the idea of compensating stay-at-home parents?

It came from a Swiss writer and editor Sibylle Stillhart who said in an interview that “finding a well-paying job after not having been employed at all or only part-time for years is not easy, if not impossible”.

She added that taking care of housework and children, requires 58 hours a week of “unpaid labour”.

What does she propose?

She said the state should pay income for domestic work.

“This way, if a couple separates and the woman finds herself with her dependent children and no salaried work, she would nevertheless be supported by the community for the services rendered, in particular for the education of the children who, later, will also contribute to national prosperity through their work”.

Stillhart suggested that a monthly salary of 7,000 francs for a family with two children is fair.

“Don’t tell me that Switzerland is not rich enough for that “, she added.

READ MORE: ‘Unprecedented crisis’: New figures show stark impact of pandemic on all Swiss job sectors

Is this likely to happen?

Rudolf Minsch, economist at Economiesuisse, an umbrella organisation of Swiss businesses, said the proposal is not realistic.

“This would lead to massive tax increases. And it would not be profitable from the point of view of equality between men and women at the professional level, because women could be satisfied with this income and no longer seek to enter the labour market”, he said.

Is this idea new?

Not quite. While it’s the first one of its kind to be created as a response to new divorce rulings, the idea of basic income for everyone in Switzerland was floated around before.

On June 5, 2016, Swiss voters rejected the initiative “For an unconditional basic income”, which proposed that each resident receive 2,500 francs a month, regardless of whether they are employed or not. 

 All the cantons had said no, as had 76.9 percent of the population.

A few cantons stood out by being more open to the idea, such as Basel-City (36 percent in favour), Jura (35.8 percent) and Geneva (34.7 percent).

Despite this rejection, the idea continues to circulate in Switzerland and internationally.

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