Due to the reinforcement of the measures against the spread of the COVID-19 virus decided by the Federal Council, millions of people across Switzerland have to stay at home to curve the outbreak.
However, self-isolation during the pandemic can be dangerous for those in abusive relationships. The current situation might lead to an increase in domestic violence, due to the general uncertainty and the limited possibilities for avoiding conflicts at home.
In a press release dated March 23rd, 2020, the Federal Council assured that in all cantons, victims of domestic violence can turn to support structures and obtain help during the pandemic.
What should you do if you are victim of domestic violence during this period?
In case of emergency, you must call the police. In the event of a crisis, the police can immediately evict your partner from the household.
In Geneva, article 8 of the Domestic Violence Law (“LVD”) provides that the police can issue an expulsion order against the alleged perpetrator if the measure appears likely to prevent the repetition of such acts, for a minimum of 10 days and a maximum of 30 days.
According to article 11 paragraph 1 LVD, the expelled person may object to the expulsion measure within 6 days of its notification, by a simple written declaration addressed to the Administrative Court of First Instance.
Any person directly affected by the expulsion order has the right to apply to the Administrative Court of First Instance for an extension of the expulsion order, no later than 4 days before the expiry of the order. The extension is granted for a maximum of 30 days. Since the initial pronouncement of the measure, its total duration may not exceed 90 days (article 11 par. 2 LVD).
The Administrative Court of First Instance has a period of 4 days from receipt of the opposition to take a decision (article 11 par. 3 LVD).
The expulsion order can then be issued by a judge in civil or criminal proceedings related to domestic violence (see below).
If your partner is violent, leaving is a right despite the confinement. You have the right to leave the marital home at any time for a few days or permanently, with your children if necessary.
If you do not feel safe at home, you can continue to benefit from accommodation during the confinement period, for example in a shelter.
You can find useful addresses on the following websites:
Furthermore, victim support services, such as LAVI counselling centers, still offer their usual services. Consultations are maintained by telephone, e-mail or online. The LAVI counselling centers also offer certain financial benefits to victims of violence. Almost every canton has a LAVI counselling center.
For Geneva : http://centrelavi-ge.ch/
Ask for legal protection
In the event of violence, threats or harassment, you can contact us or LAVI counselling centers to legally forbid your (ex-)partner from approaching you or your home, from contacting you, in particular by telephone, in writing or via email. If you share the same accommodation, you can also ask to have your partner evicted for a certain period of time.
Ask for protective measures
You can apply to the civil court for legal measures governing for status as a couple, whether you continue to live together or not. These include financial contributions between spouses, allocation of housing or custody of children.
Report or file a criminal complaint
You have the right to report the situation to the police for intervention. The police will then send a report to the Public Prosecutor's Office, which can open an investigation, without you having to formally file a criminal complaint.
You can also file a complaint against your (ex-)partner. For acts that are only prosecuted on complaint, this must be done within 3 months of the acts of violence.
Contact us by email if you need legal advice.
27/03/2020 - Louise Steinfels, attorney-at-law at Ochsner & Associés