Switzerland to stop foreign domestic violence victims losing residence permits

Helena Bachmann
Helena Bachmann - [email protected]
Switzerland to stop foreign domestic violence victims losing residence permits
Foreign women will be better protected against domestic abuse. Image by Diana Cibotari from Pixabay

Both chambers of Switzerland’s parliament agree that a new law needs to be created to prevent foreign women who are abused by their partners from losing their residency permits.


Domestic abuse is a growing problem in Switzerland: statistics show that in 2022 (the latest available data), nearly 20,000 domestic offences were registered by the police — an increase of 3.3 percent (637 cases) in comparison to the previous year. 

Women aged 26 to 45 are most often affected, according to a study carried out on behalf of the Women's Solidarity Federation.

The true numbers, however, are likely much higher because many incidents are not reported.

Foreign women were victims at a rate of 36 per 10,000 — double the number of their Swiss counterparts.

But many women of foreign nationality don’t report these incidents to Swiss authorities because they are afraid of losing their residence permit in the event of separation from their spouses.

“If one has to fear losing their right of residence following an abuse report, then one remains in such a relationship,” said MP Marianne Binder-Keller, one of the deputies who spearheaded the move.

“This is all the more the case for foreign populations who are even more excluded due to the language barrier,” added another MP, Mathilde Crevoisier Crelier.


This is what the MPs are pushing for

The new regulations will benefit not only victims who live with Swiss citizens or who have a C permit (as is the case currently), but also include those who currently fall through the cracks – that is, women who have a short-term residence permit (L) and those admitted on provisional basis (F permit).

The goal is not to exclude any victim, based solely on their status in Switzerland.

Opposition to the move

A minority of MPs, led by the right-wingers, are opposed to any relaxation of the law.

"We are opening an extremely dangerous door since we may find ourselves in the situation in which a person has to leave our country, and there is a spontaneous announcement that there has been domestic violence,” launched one deputy, Mauro Poggia.

Most MPs, however, vow to get the new law off the ground, though the National Council must first smooth out some discrepancies.


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