Switzerland

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Reports

Analysis of the precedents of the Cantonal Courts on the Gender Equality Act (2017)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination, Sexual harassment

The study is an in-depth analysis of 190 records of cantonal conciliation hearings and judgments under the Federal Gender Equality Act, 1996 (the “Act”) over the period of 2004 to 2015 by authors Karine Lempen (Law Professor, University of Geneva) and Aner Voloder (Lawyer, Office for Gender Equality of the Municipality of Zurich).  Among the major findings and conclusions reached in the study are the following:

Proceedings under the Act are nearly always brought by private individuals (mainly women) and very rarely by organizations, notwithstanding the provision of the Act authorizing court actions relating to gender discrimination to be brought by organizations. Individuals bringing a case of gender discrimination to the courts most commonly complain of pay discrimination or discriminatory dismissal, and in the vast majority of cases employment has ceased before the court issues its judgment.  Bringing an action under the Act very often entails losing one's job. Almost one-third of discrimination cases relate to pregnancy or maternity, with discrimination often occurring on return to work after maternity leave and the mother being dismissed by the employer. Discriminatory or constructive dismissal cases are often adjudged solely under Swiss employment laws rather than under the specific provisions of the Act. In some cases this has resulted in a failure to relax the plaintiff’s burden of proof as provided in the Act. Most persons bringing proceedings for gender-based discrimination do not win their cases, with the analysis showing that 62.5% of rulings enforcing the Act find mostly or entirely against the claiming employee. Similarly, it is not unusual for the employee in the action to be ordered to pay costs which may amount to several thousand Swiss francs. The protection in the Act against constructive dismissal has proved to be fairly ineffective in practice, with court actions rarely being brought under that provision and all but one of such actions failing. The failure rate is particularly high (82.8%) when the alleged form of discrimination is sexual harassment, with the courts often failing to recognize that the intention of procuring sexual favors is not necessary to a finding of a hostile working environment, and therefore of sexual harassment under the Act.  Moreover, it is rare for judgments to assess the extent to which the employer has met its obligation to prevent harassment. The special compensation allowed under the Act for sexual harassment is rarely awarded.

Based on the conclusions reached in the study, the authors make a number of recommendations -- for amendments to the Act and other specific legislative changes, improved training of the judiciary with regard to the Act, actions by Swiss equality offices (including improved data collection, more in-depth study of maternity-based discrimination in Switzerland and actions to raise awareness generally of the Act and the rights it provides), and universities (to require study of the Act as part of the bachelor’s degree course of study in law) -- in order to improve access to justice for people discriminated against on grounds of gender in working life.



Legislation

Article 164 of the Swiss Civil Code: Allowance for Personal Use (2019)

Gender discrimination

This article provides that a spouse who looks after the household, cares for the children, or supports the career or business of the other spouse is entitled to receive from the latter a reasonable allowance for his or her own personal use. In determining the allowance, “account must be taken of the personal resources of the receiving spouse and the need to provide conscientiously for the family, career and business.” Unofficial English translation available here.



Schweizerisches Strafgesetzbuch/Swiss Penal Code, Article 264e: War Crimes (2019)

Forced and early marriage, Forced sterilization, Gender violence in conflict, International law, Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement, Trafficking in persons

Art. 264e provides for a criminal penalty of not less than three years for any person who commits certain specified offenses in connection with an armed conflict, including (among other things) raping a person of the female gender protected by international humanitarian law or, after she has been forcibly made pregnant, confining her unlawfully with the intent of affecting the ethnic composition of a population, forcing a person to tolerate a sexual act of comparable severity or forcing a person protected by international humanitarian law into prostitution or to be sterilized.  In especially serious cases, and in particular where the offense affects a number of persons or the offender acts in a cruel manner, life imprisonment may be imposed. In less serious cases, imprisonment of not less than one year may be imposed. Unofficial English translation available here.



Schweizerisches Strafgesetzbuch/Swiss Penal Code, Article 264a: Crimes Against Humanity (2019)

Forced and early marriage, Gender violence in conflict, International law, Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement, Trafficking in persons

Provides for a criminal penalty of not less than five years for any person who commits certain specified offenses as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, including (1) assuming and exercising a right of ownership over a person, in particular in the form of trafficking in persons, sexual exploitation or forced labor; and (2) raping a person of the female gender or, after she has been forcibly made pregnant, confining her unlawfully with the intent of affecting the ethnic composition of a population, forcing a person to tolerate a sexual act of comparable severity or forcing a person into prostitution or to be sterilized. Unofficial English translation available here.



Schweizerisches Strafgesetzbuch/Swiss Penal Code, Article 213: Incest (2019)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

Provides for criminal penalties of imprisonment for not more than three years or a monetary penalty for any person who has sexual intercourse with a blood relative in direct line or with a brother or sister, or a half-brother or half-sister.



Schweizerisches Strafgesetzbuch/Swiss Penal Code, Article 197: Aggravated Pornography (2019)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

Provides for criminal penalties of imprisonment for not more than three years or a monetary penalty for, among other things, a person who recruits or causes a minor to participate in a pornographic performance, or for any person who produces, imports, stores, markets, advertises, exhibits, offers, shows, passes on or makes accessible to others or possesses pornography that contains sexual acts involving animals, acts of violence involving adults or non-genuine sexual acts with minors.  For pornography containing genuine sexual acts with minors, the penalty is imprisonment for not more than five years or a monetary penalty.  Criminal penalties are also provided for persons who obtain or produce such pornographic materials for their own use. Unofficial English translation available here.



Schweizerisches Strafgesetzbuch/Swiss Penal Code, Article 196: Sexual Acts with Minors Against Payment (2019)

Statutory rape or defilement, Trafficking in persons

Provides for criminal penalties of imprisonment for not more than three years or a monetary penalty for any person who carries out sexual acts with a minor or induces a minor to carry out such acts in return for payment or promises of payment. Unofficial English translation available here. 



Schweizerisches Strafgesetzbuch/Swiss Penal Code, Articles 189 - 192: Offenses Against Sexual Liberty and Honor (2019)

Sexual violence and rape

Art. 189 provides for criminal penalties of imprisonment for not more than 10 years or a monetary penalty for any person who uses threats, force or psychological pressure on another person or makes that other person incapable of resistance in order to compel him or her to tolerate a sexual act similar to intercourse or any other sexual act.  If the offender acts with cruelty, and if the offender used an offensive weapon or other dangerous object, the penalty is imprisonment for not less than three years. Art. 190 provides that a person can be sentenced to between 1 and 10 years in custody or a fine for using violence, threats, or psychological pressure to force a female to engage in a sexual act, or for making her incapable of resisting.  Art. 191 provides for criminal penalties of imprisonment for not more than 10 years or a monetary penalty for any person who, in the knowledge that another person is incapable of judgement or resistance, has sexual intercourse with, or commits an act similar to sexual intercourse or any other sexual act on, that person. Art. 192 provides for criminal penalties of imprisonment for not more than three years or a monetary penalty for any person who, by abusing a dependent relationship with a person in institutional care, an inmate of an institution, a prisoner, a detainee or a person on remand, induces the dependent person to commit or submit to a sexual act. Art. 193 provides for criminal penalties of imprisonment for not more than three years or a monetary penalty for any person who induces another to commit or submit to a sexual act by exploiting a position of need or a dependent relationship based on employment or another dependent relationship. Unofficial English translation available here.



Schweizerisches Strafgesetzbuch/Swiss Penal Code, Article 188: Endangering the Development of Minors/Sexual Acts with Dependent Persons (2019)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

Art. 188 provides for criminal penalties of imprisonment for not more than three years or a monetary penalty for any person who sexually exploits his or her relationship with a minor over the age of 16 (which is the age threshold for statutory rape under Penal Code Art. 187) who is dependent on him or her due to a relationship arising from the minor's education, care or employment or another form of dependent relationship, or for any person who encourages such a minor to commit a sexual act by exploiting such a relationship. Unofficial English translation available here.



Schweizerisches Strafgesetzbuch/Swiss Penal Code, Article 182: Trafficking in Human Beings (2019)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement, Trafficking in persons

Art. 182 provides for criminal penalties of imprisonment or a monetary penalty for any person who as a supplier, intermediary or customer engages in the trafficking of a human being for the purpose of sexual exploitation, exploitation of his or her labor or for the purpose of removing an organ. If the victim is a minor or if the offender acts for commercial gain, the penalty is imprisonment for not less than one year.  In every case, a monetary penalty must also be imposed.  The statute also provides that the soliciting of a person for these purposes is equivalent to trafficking, and that any person who commits the act abroad is also guilty of an offense. Unofficial English translation available here.



Schweizerisches Strafgesetzbuch/Swiss Penal Code, Articles 118 and 119: Illegal Abortion and Legal Abortion (2019)

Abortion and reproductive health rights

Art. 118 provides for criminal penalties of imprisonment for not more than five years or a monetary penalty for any person who terminates a pregnancy with the consent of the pregnant woman or incites or assists a pregnant woman to terminate her pregnancy without the requirements of Penal Code Art. 119 being met. Article 118 also provides for (1) imprisonment from one to 10 years for any person who terminates a pregnancy without the consent of the pregnant woman, and (2) imprisonment for not more than three years or a monetary penalty for any woman who has her pregnancy terminated or otherwise participates in the termination of her pregnancy following the end of the twelfth week and without the requirements of Penal Code Art. 119 being met. Article 119 provides the requirements for legal abortion. The termination is, in the judgment of a physician, necessary in order to be able to prevent the pregnant woman from sustaining serious physical injury or serious psychological distress. The risk must be greater the more advanced the pregnancy is, or the termination must be performed (1) at the written request of a pregnant woman within 12 weeks of the start of the woman’s last period, (2) by a physician who is licensed to practice his profession, and (3) the woman claims that she is in a state of distress. The physician must have a detailed consultation with the woman prior to the termination and provide her with appropriate counsel. If the woman is incapable of judgment, the consent of her legal representative is required. The statute directs the Swiss Cantons to designate the medical practices and hospitals that fulfill the requirements for the professional conduct of procedures to terminate pregnancy and for the provision of counsel. Unofficial English translation available here.



Schweizerisches Strafgesetzbuch/Swiss Penal Code, Article 67: Prohibition on carrying on an activity involving regular contact with minors following sentencing for certain offenses (2019)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement, Trafficking in persons

This article provides that a person who is sentenced to a custodial sentence of more than six months or to indefinite incarceration or involuntary commitment for offenses committed during the exercise of a professional activity or organized non-professional activity shall be prohibited from carrying on the exercise when it involves regular contact with any minors for 10 years. The offenses include: statutory rape or other child sexual abuse, rape and sexual coercion, child pornography, encouraging prostitution, and human trafficking. Unofficial English translation available here.



Schweizerisches Strafgesetzbuch/Swiss Penal Code, Article 66a: Mandatory expulsion of foreign nationals for female genital mutilation and certain other offenses (2019)

Female genital mutilation or female genital cutting, International law, Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement, Trafficking in persons

Article 66a provides that a foreign national shall be expelled from Switzerland for a period of five to 15 years if they are convicted of, among other things, female genital mutilation (Penal Code Art. 124, para. 1), forced marriage or forced registered partnership (Penal Code Art. 181a), trafficking in human beings (Penal Art. 182), sexual acts with children (Penal Code Art. 187, para. 1), sexual coercion (Art. 189), rape (Art. 190), sexual acts with persons incapable of judgement or resistance (Art. 191), encouraging prostitution (Art. 195), aggravated pornography (Art. 197, para. 4, second sentence – pornography containing genuine sexual acts with minors), genocide (Art. 264), crimes against humanity (Art. 264a), serious violations of the Geneva Convention of 1949 (Art. 264c), and other war crimes (Art. 264d and 264h). Unofficial English translation available here. 



Schweizerisches Strafgesetzbuch/Swiss Penal Code, Article 5: Offenses against minors (2019)

Statutory rape or defilement, Trafficking in persons

Art. 5 provides that the Swiss Penal Code also applies to any person who is in Switzerland, is not being extradited, and has committed any of the following offenses abroad: (1) Trafficking in human beings (Penal Code Art. 182), sexual coercion (Penal Code Art. 189), rape (Penal Code Art. 190), sexual acts with a person incapable of proper judgment or resistance (Penal Code Art. 191) or encouraging prostitution (Penal Code Art. 195) if the victim was less than 18 years of age; (2) sexual acts with dependent persons (Penal Code Art. 188) and sexual acts with minors against payment (Penal Code Art. 196); (3) sexual acts with a child (Penal Code Art. 187) and sexual acts with a minor of age less than 14; or (4) aggravated pornography (Penal Code Art. 197, para. 3 and 4) if the objects or representations depict sexual acts with minors. Unofficial English translation available here.



Swiss Civil Code (2013)

Divorce and dissolution of marriage

Art. 96: A person cannot remarry until the person proves that his or her previous marriage has been annulled or dissolved.

Art. 105: A person can annul a marriage if a spouse was already married when they wed.



Schweizerisches Strafgesetzbuch/Swiss Penal Code (2014)

Female genital mutilation or female genital cutting, Forced and early marriage, Harmful traditional practices, Sexual harassment, Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement, Trafficking in persons

Art. 124: A person who seriously injures a female’s genitals can be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison or fined.  A person may be punished for causing such injuries abroad if the person is not extradited.

Art. 181a: The statute provides that anyone who coerces someone to marry or register a same-sex partnership by the use of force or threats can be punished by sentence of custody of up to five years.  The statute applies even if the marriage occurred outside Switzerland if the person has not been extradited. 

Art. 187: A person can be punished by up to five years in custody or a fine for (1) committing a sexual act with a person under 16 years old, (2) inciting a child under 16 to commit a sexual act, or (3) involving a child under 16 in a sexual act.

Art. 190: A person can be sentenced to between 1 and 10 years in custody or a fine for using violence, threats, or psychological pressure to force a female to engage in a sexual act, or for making her incapable of resisting. 

Art. 195: A person can be sentenced to 10 years in custody or fined for (1) inducing or encouraging a minor to engage in prostitution for financial gain, (2) inducing a person into prostitution by taking advantage of their dependency, (3) restricting a prostitute’s freedom to act by controlling his or her work as a prostitute, or (4) making a person continue as a prostitute against his or her will.

Art. 198: A person may be fined for offending someone by performing a sexual act in the presence of another who is not expecting it or sexually harassing someone through physical acts or indecent language. 



Federal Act on Gender Equality (1996)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination, Sexual harassment

Article 1 of this act states that it is intended to promote equality between men and women.  Article 3 prohibits discrimination against employees based on sex.  Article 4 prohibits sexual harassment in the workplace.  Article 5 provides for relief, including injunctive relief and lost salary.  Article 10 protects against retaliation against complainants. 



Federal Constitution of the Swiss Confederation (1999)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination

Art. 8 of the Constitution provides that all people are equal and no person may be discriminated against because of gender.  The Constitution also states that men and women have equal rights and the law shall ensure their equality.  Art. 35 provides for protection of fundamental rights even in private relationships.



International Case Law

A.Sh., et al. v. Switzerland Committee Against Torture (2018)

Custodial violence, International law, Sexual violence and rape

A.Sh., his wife Z.H. and their children, ethnic Chechens of the Muslim faith with Russian citizenship were residing in Switzerland and awaiting deportation to the Russian Federation.  A.Sh.’s brother-in-law was a leader of a Chechen insurgent group who went into hiding.  A.Sh. helped his sister and was arrested and beaten for collaborating with insurgents.  He left the Russian Federation with his eldest son for Switzerland.  When the police searched for him, they interrogated Z.H. about his whereabouts and then closed his shop and would not allow her to re-open it, stating it was her husband’s.  The police came to her house, searched it, and took her passport, after which the commanding officer raped Z.H.  She and her traumatize younger son went to live with her parents, and then left the Russian Federation illegally by car for Switzerland, where the complainants’ request for asylum was denied.  The Committee considered complainants’ claim that, if they were returned to the Russian Federation, they would be exposed to torture, and Switzerland would be in violation of article 3 of the Convention.  The Swiss authorities questioned complainants’ credibility and argued that the possibility they could settle in another region of the Russian Federation, other than Chechnya, meant they were not likely to be exposed to serious risk of treatment contrary to the Convention in case of return.  The Committee addressed the claim that because Z.H.’s rape was not raised at the time of the first asylum procedure, the complainants lacked credibility, stating that Z.H. and her husband had been subjected to torture and suffered post-traumatic stress disorder according to the medical reports issued by Swiss psychiatrists and psychologists.  Accordingly, since complete accuracy is seldom to be expected from victims of torture, the delay in reporting the sexual abuse did not undermine Z.H.’s credibility.  In this connection, the Committee recalled prior its prior holdings that rape constitutes “infliction of severe pain and suffering perpetrated for a number of impermissible purposes, including interrogation, intimidation, punishment, retaliation, humiliation and discrimination based on gender”, and that in other cases it has found that “sexual abuse by the police … constitutes torture” even when it is perpetrated outside of formal detention facilities.”  The Committee also rejected the Swiss authorities’ reliance on “internal flight,” citing the Russian requirement that Russian nationals must register within 90 days of arriving in a new place of residence and that this information will be accessible to Chechen authorities.  By rejecting the asylum application based on the assumption of the availability of an internal flight alternative and without giving sufficient weight to whether they could be at risk of persecution, the Committee determined that Switzerland failed its obligations under article 3 of the Convention.  It concluded that Switzerland could not forcibly return complainants to the Russian Federation or any country where there was a risk they could be returned to the Russian Federation.  Switzerland was given 90 days to respond with the steps it planned to take.



Case of Burghartz v. Switzerland European Court of Human Rights (1994)

Gender discrimination

Gender-based law on marital names.  The Court found no legal justification for a law to require married women to take their husbands' surnames.



V.L. v. Switzerland CAT Committee (2006)

Sexual violence and rape

V.L. and her husband left Belarus for Switzerland after V.L.’s husband criticized the president of Belarus in a public newspaper. They first applied for asylum to the Swiss Federal Office for Refugees (BFF), which rejected the application and ordered V.L. and her husband to leave the country. Afterwards, V.L. revealed to her husband that she was the victim of several episodes of sexual abuse conducted by the Miliz, Belarus’ police force, who were seeking information about her husband’s whereabouts. Her husband reacted with violent insults and forbid V.L. from recounting the instances of sexual abuse to the Swiss authorities. When the Swiss Asylum Review Board (ARK) requested further information about V.L.’s reasons for seeking asylum, V.L. stated that she was raped once by three police officers, and again by these same officers after she had reported the incident to the head of the Miliz. When asked why she did not include the sexual abuse in her first application to the BFF, V.L. admitted that it was because of her husband’s psychological pressure not to report the rapes. The ARK considered V.L.’s rape claims implausible because she did not at least mention them in her first application for asylum, expressing suspicion about V.L.’s “sudden ability … to provide details about the alleged rape.” When V.L. submitted supporting medical reports to the ARK, the ARK replied that her case was closed and ordered her to return to Belarus. The Committee took note of several official documents illustrating the high incidence of violence against women in Belarus, including the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus, the Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, and the Ministry of Interior’s report of a 17% increase in reports of rape from the year prior to V.L.’s complaint. The Committee concluded that V.L.’s delay in reporting the sexual abuse was due to the reasonable fear of her husband’s shaming and rejection that can be common among female rape victims. In light of her past experiences with the Miliz and the Committee’s substantial doubt that the authorities in Belarus would take necessary measures to protect V.L. from further harm should be return, the Committee held that V.L.’s forced return to Belarus would violate Switzerland’s obligations under article 3 not to expel or return a person to another state where there are substantial grounds for believing that he or she would be in danger of being subjected to torture or inhuman treatment.



Domestic Case Law

B. v. A., BGE 126 IV 124 Supreme Federal Court (2000)

Divorce and dissolution of marriage, Domestic and intimate partner violence, Sexual violence and rape

A. met B. in St. Gallen in 1993. A. had to leave Switzerland at the end of 1995. They married in April 1996 in Ghana. In August 1996, A. was able to return to Switzerland. After his return, the relationship gradually became more oppressive and menacing toward B., for example, by pressuring B. for sexual intercourse.  B. gave in to his demands when she could no longer stand the intimidation. B. separated from A. on March, 28, 1998, and on July 20, 1998, A. was prosecuted for threatening, assaulting, and coercing B. The district and appellate courts in the Canton of St. Gallen sentenced A. to prison and condemned him to heavy penalties, including both imprisonment and damages. A. appealed to the Federal Supreme Court, under the claim that he was the husband of B. and not a rapist who lacked entitlement to approach B. The Supreme Federal Court rejected A.’s appeal.



Public Prosecutor of Zurich Canton v. X., BGE 129 IV 81 Supreme Federal Court (2002)

Sexual violence and rape, Trafficking in persons

The defendant, X., procured women for the purpose of prostitution from a recruiter operating in Thailand.  She deliberately chose women from poor and disadvantaged backgrounds because of their greater vulnerability and their perceived inability to resist demands made by X. On February 14, 2000, the Zurich District Court convicted X on charges relating to the promotion of prostitution of others under Article 195(3) of the Penal Code (Switzerland), but found the defendant not guilty in relation to trafficking in persons, assault, and other prostitution related offenses.  Her conviction resulted in a sentence of two-and-a-half years of imprisonment and a fine of CHF 10,000. On January 24, 2001, the Zurich Court of Appeal, found X. guilty of multiple counts of trafficking in human beings (under Article 196 of the Criminal Code), promotion of prostitution (under Article 195(3) and (4) of the Criminal Code), and for offenses relating to bribery (Articles 288a and 305). X.’s prison sentence was increased to four and a half (4.5) years and the fine of CHF 10,000 was affirmed. X. appealed to the Supreme Federal Court for the annulment of the decision made by the Zurich Court of Appeal. The Supreme Federal Court confirmed the decision of the Zurich Court of Appeal, adding that any consent that may have been given by any of the trafficked women after they had been trafficked and were present in Switzerland would have been irrelevant.



Public Prosecutor of Canton Ticino v. A.A., 6S. 292/2004 Supreme Federal Court (2004)

Divorce and dissolution of marriage, Domestic and intimate partner violence, Sexual violence and rape

A.A. and B.A., while estranged spouses but not having applied for legal separation, were living in the same house in two separate apartments, with A.A. paying for the rental of both units. The decision to live in the same house was accepted by B.A., as it allowed them to continue helping each other with everyday tasks and to oversee the children’s education together. On June 7, 2003, B.A. alleged that the two engaged in intercourse without B.A.’s consent. On May 24, 2004, the Canton Ticino Public Prosecutor indicted A.A. before the Court of Riviera for alleged sexual violence against his wife, B.A. On July 2, 2004, the Canton Ticino Court of Appeal dismissed the indictment of the Public Prosecutor, as B.A. had withdrawn the allegation of sexual violence committed against her by her husband. The Public Prosecutor appealed the decision before the Supreme Federal Court. Under Swiss law, sexual violence against a spouse can only be prosecuted where the victim has made allegations. The Supreme Federal Court, on the basis of the evidence collected in the course of the proceeding, and as argued by the Public Prosecutor, stated that the fact that the spouses were living in two separate apartments was not material, as they were nevertheless maintaining a “communion of life” status, which could be inferred from their mutual assistance, meals together, continued feelings of affection, and occasional sexual intercourses. Therefore, on the basis of such evidence, the Supreme Federal Court stated that the decision of the Court of Appeal to dismiss the indictment of A.A. was legitimate and rejected the Public Prosecutor’s appeal.



X. v. Y., BGE 131 IV 167 Supreme Federal Court (2005)

Divorce and dissolution of marriage, Domestic and intimate partner violence, Sexual violence and rape

Y. was married to X. until 1993. After the divorce, he continued to live with his former wife until March 2001, when he moved into his own flat. The former spouses continued their sexual relationship until September 2, 2001, after which they finally separated. From September 21 to October 12, 2001, Y. sent X. a large number of messages demanding that she perform certain sexual acts and threatening her. X. finally consented to the sexual acts demanded - including sexual intercourse and filming a sex tape. X. was forced to film pornography and suffered sexual abuse for about two months. Initially, the Winterthur Court condemned Y. to sixteen (16) months in prison for sexual coercion and rape. On appeal, the prison sentence was reduced to four (4) months, but Y.’s culpability was firmly reiterated. Y. appealed to the Supreme Federal Court, claiming that the threats to X. were not as severe as the prosecution had claimed. This appeal was rejected by the Supreme Federal Court, and the sentence of four (4) months remained in place.



Public Prosecutor of Fribourg Canton v. B., BGE 132 IV 120 Supreme Federal Court (2006)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, Sexual violence and rape

A. (born in 1970) and B. (born in 1969) became engaged in 1996, and, two years after the engagement, they began to have regular sexual relations. On September 3, 2002, whilst under the influence of alcohol, the two engaged in intercourse in A’s house without her consent, with B. filming the act. These sexual encounters continued until 2004, when the Fribourg Cantonal Police seized the tapes recorded. The Canton of Fribourg Supreme Court convicted B. of first and second degree sexual coercion and rape and sentenced him to imprisonment. In 2004, and, on appeal, in 2006, A. was sentenced with a fine for having produced and manufactured, as the protagonist, violent pornography (paragraphs 3 and 3a Art. 197 Criminal Code). The couple appealed to the Supreme Federal Court, invoking mitigating circumstances covered by article 63 Criminal Code, citing the fact that both individuals were drunk when recording the first two tapes. The Supreme Federal Court noted that A. was not a minor under the age of 16; however, she had been subjected to acts of violence that were unacceptable. B. forced her to undergo disproportionate torture and degrading and inhuman acts that contravened her human rights. Thus, B.’s heavy prison sentence was confirmed by the Supreme Federal Court. Additionally, the Supreme Federal Court judged that sexual coercion (Art. 189 Criminal Code) and rape (Art. 190 Criminal Code) may occur even if the sexual act was atypical and did not consist of the penis penetrating a woman’s genitalia.



X. v. A., 6B_962/2010 Federal Court (2011)

Gender-based violence in general, Sexual violence and rape

A. was a drug-addicted prostitute working in the Sihlquai area in Zurich who agreed to perform certain sexual acts with client X. for a remuneration of Fr. 50. X. took A. to a rented room outside of the city of Zurich where X. beat A. with a whip and forced her to perform violent and humiliating sexual acts. A. claimed not to have agreed to perform these acts with X., while X. countered that they were part of the agreed transaction. X. was sentenced by the Baden District Court to imprisonment for sexually abusing A. X. appealed the verdict and the Canton Aargau Supreme Federal Court dismissed the appeal, finding the preconditions of sexual assault fulfilled. The Supreme Federal Court determined that, even if A. voluntarily agreed to perform certain sexual acts with X., she did not consent to the violent acts and she could not express her refusal in any other manner than verbally and through limited physical resistance. The Supreme Federal Court also found that the client X. could not expect the victim A. to agree to such violent sexual practices, even for remuneration.