Public Opinion is Clear: Urgent Legislation Required to Protect Children from Sexual Exploitation! Read the story

Switzerland is reinforcing stronger penalties for child sex offenders and child sex traffickers

Posted on Feb 11, 2014

Although Switzerland has been ranked 9th on the Human Development Index, 9.4% of Swiss children were still living in poverty in 2011. Moreover, because many child sexual abuse cases occur in the home, many cases continue to go unreported. In 2010, out of 1723 cases of child sexual abuse only 319 led to convictions. According to one survey, almost 22% of girls and 17% of boys between 15 and 17 years of age have been a victim of physical sexual aggression at least once in their lives.

A new law to protect children

Although Switzerland is not part of the European Union, it is a member of the European Council that defends the rights of rights, the rule of law and democracy. However, for a long time it remained one of the few European countries where sexual exploitation of minors between 16 and 18 years old was still legal. On 10 September 2013, the Swiss House of Representatives, following a vote from the Senate, passed a bill to amend the Penal Code provisions addressing child sexual exploitation and child sexual abuse material. Under the new law,  exploiting  a child between 16 and 18 years of age is punishable by a term of imprisonment not exceeding three years. Anyone convicted of sexually exploiting a child under 18 years of age will now face up to 10 years in prison. In addition, recruiting and coercing children between 16 to 18 years of age for the purpose of making child sexual abuse material is now punishable by a term of imprisonment not exceeding five years.

Need for stronger punishment

According to the Trafficking in Persons Report published by the U.S. State Department, the penalties assigned to trafficking offenders led to imprisonments in only about 17% of cases. Furthermore, out of the 56 people prosecuted for sex trafficking and forced labour in 2009, 31 were convicted and only nine were sentenced to imprisonment. Swiss authorities responded to the need for stronger punishments in order to better fight this crime and there is hope that the new Penal Code will be the right tool to do this.

To understand more about the commercial sexual exploitation of children in Switzerland you can read the full report here: The sexual exploitation of children in Switzerland (French)