Government approves tougher penalties for rape

The proposed reforms also include tougher penalties for serious bodily harm Keystone

The Swiss government has approved reforms of the Penal Code to toughen sanctions for sexual violence and bodily harm, as well as introduce a broader definition of rape. They must now be approved by parliament. 

This content was published on April 25, 2018

The Bill, which was submitted to parliament on Wednesday, focuses on attacks on sexual integrity, as well as attacks that threaten life and bodily integrity. 

Whilst leaving judges with latitude to decide each case, the Bill proposes to raise the minimum prison sentence for rape from one year to two, should Swiss politicians vote the bill through.

In addition, rape will no longer be defined with reference to gender and will include similar acts of sexual violence. At present, Swiss law defines rape as an act by a male against a female. 

Aside from rape, any other sexual act against a child under the age of 12 is to carry a minimum sentence of one year in jail. 

+ Read more about attempts to change Swiss law on rape

There are also to be tougher penalties for hooligans. The minimum sentence for causing serious bodily harm is to be doubled to one year in jail, whilst there will also be tougher penalties for group acts of violence against authorities and public officials. 

The relevant part of the Swiss Penal Code has been modified more than 70 times in 40 years to take account of evolving social values, technological advances and Switzerland’s obligations under international conventions, explains a government press releaseExternal link. But, it says, there has never been an overall assessment of whether minimum sentences reflect the gravity of the acts committed or are coherent in relation to each other. The current Bill aims to address that gap.

These reforms have been controversial and have been in the pipeline since 2012. They may also be the subject of heated parliamentary debate.  

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