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Woman told to accept abuse or leave country

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11:37 CEST+02:00

Switzerland's supreme court has intervened to stop a young Kosovan woman having to decide whether to remain with her abusive husband or lose her Swiss residency permit.

 

The 21-year-old Kosovan woman came to join her husband in St. Gallen in the east of Switzerland some 21 months ago, newspaper Tages Anzeiger reported.

The husband, who is seven years older than his wife, forbade her from attending German-language or integration courses and would only allow her to leave the house in the company of her mother-in-law.

When the woman tried to resist what she described as slave-like conditions, she was put out on the street. Her family back in Kosovo also rejected her for her behaviour.

The St. Gallen migration board then decided not to renew her residence permit because she could not show that she was a victim of marital violence, or that she would face persecution in Kosovo. Her complaints to the Cantonal Security and Justice Department and to the Administrative Court were also rejected.

The kind of experience she had gone through was to be expected in a Muslim marriage, the authorities said.

In addition, having only met the man five times prior to the marriage, she must have known that such problems might occur.

The supreme court then stepped in and said that the previous decision-makers had not reached the appropriate conclusions. The court found that psychological abuse was also a form of violence, and said that there was no place for such behaviour in a liberal society.

A person affected by domestic violence should not "be faced with the dilemma of whether to remain in the abusive situation or to accept the loss of the right to residence,” the court concluded.

The Federal Court has now referred the case back to the St. Gallen justice authorities and told them to retry the case.

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