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Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women reviews the reports of Switzerland

GENEVA (2 November 2016) - The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women today considered the combined fourth and fifth periodic reports of Switzerland on its implementation of the provisions of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.
 
Introducing the reports, Sylvie Durrer, Director of the Swiss Federal Office for Gender Equality, Federal Ministry of the Interior, recalled that Switzerland was a young democracy in which women had gained the right to vote and be elected only in 1971.  The Federal Act on Gender Equality had been adopted in 1995.  Priority areas of action in Switzerland were improving gender equality in the professional world, strengthening efforts to combat violence against women and domestic violence, and modernising family law.  The programme for the 2016-2018 legislative period would address pay discrimination, and the consultations were ongoing on a bill to revise Swiss company law and set gender threshold-values for senior-executive positions in listed companies.  In 2013, the Government had approved a package of 30 measures to be implemented by 2018 to improve the work-life balance and better integrate women in the labour market, including the increase in cantonal and communal subsidies to defray the cost of day-care, while the pension reform package introduced by the Government was currently being discussed in Parliament.  Switzerland hoped to ratify the Istanbul Convention by 2018 while the federal bill on improving protection for victims of violence would be submitted to Parliament in 2017. 
 
In the discussion that followed, Committee Experts asked about the direct applicability of the Convention, and measures to ensure that principles of gender equality and non-discrimination applied in line with Article 1 of the Convention.  The implementation of the Istanbul Convention was a priority in the fight against violence against women, they said, and asked why Switzerland needed so much time to ratify the Convention and start implementing it.  Experts urged Switzerland to set up a national human rights institution in accordance with the Paris Principles and to adopt strict legislative and mandatory political quotas in order to accelerate the process of de facto gender equality.  They were concerned about the ill feeling towards Muslim migrants and inquired about measures taken to curb the upsurge of racism and xenophobia, including in schools.  The delegation was also asked about efforts to strengthen the participation of women in peace processes around the globe and build their capacity to engage in preventing violent extremism in local contexts; procedures for the full implementation of the Arms Trade Treaty and ensuring that arms producing companies monitored and reported on the impact of arms trade on human rights and violence against women; and to inform on the Swiss strategy on eradication of illicit trade in small arms. 
 
In her concluding remarks, Ms. Durrer reaffirmed that de facto and de jure equality was a priority in Switzerland, and said that the ratification of the Istanbul Convention would be the culmination of the many measures taken to protect victims of violence against women.  The adoption of political quotas was not possible in the current political context, but Switzerland would continue to integrate a gender perspective and fight gender stereotypes.
 
Yoko Hayashi, Committee Chairperson, commended Switzerland for its efforts and encouraged it to address various recommendations which the Committee would issue with the purpose of more comprehensive implementation of the Convention throughout the State party.
 
The delegation of Switzerland included representatives of the Swiss Federal Office for Gender Equality, Federal Social Insurance Office, Federal Service for Combatting Racism, Federal Statistical Office, Federal Office of Police, Federal Office of Justice, State Secretariat for Migration, Federal Department of the Interior, Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, Federal Department of Finance, Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research, Berne Canton, and the Permanent Mission of Switzerland to the United Nations Office at Geneva.
 
The Committee will reconvene in public on Thursday, 3 November, at 10 a.m., to consider the combined seventh and eighth periodic reports of Honduras (CEDAW/C/HND/7-8).
 
Reports

The combined fourth and fifth periodic reports of Switzerland can be read here: CEDAW/C/CHE/4-5.
 
Presentation of the Report
 
SYLVIE DURRER, Director of the Swiss Federal Office for Gender Equality, Federal Ministry of the Interior, recalled that Switzerland was a young democracy in which women had gained the right to vote and be elected only in 1971.  A guide had been published in May 2015 to assist federal offices in assessing the impact of proposed laws on gender equality; the national conference held in February 2016 had evaluated the state of affairs 20 years after the adoption of the Federal Act on Gender Equality, finding that the Act was still not widely known and that legal expertise to carry out pay-gap analysis was lacking.  The authorities dealt more closely with issues of gender discrimination in the workplace; the statistics showed a rise in complaints filed by mothers and pregnant women, but it was hard to say whether it was because individuals were more aware of their rights and were more ready to defend them, or because instances of discrimination were on the rise.  The recent migrant crisis and the terrorist attacks carried out in the name of Islam had shaken the basic trust in the Muslim population among some sections of the public, and this was expressed in the current debate over the full veil.  It was likely that a federal popular vote on banning the full veil would take place in the future; regardless of the outcome, the Government would ensure that Muslim women would not suffer discrimination on the basis of their religion.
 
Three priority areas in Switzerland were improving gender equality in the professional world, strengthening efforts to combat violence against women and domestic violence, and modernising the family law.  Women continued to face discrimination in the professional world, including a pay gap of 6.5 per cent in the public sector and 8.7 per cent in the private sector; fighting pay discrimination had been included in the programme for the 2016-2019 legislative period, while in September 2016, the Federal Government had signed a charter for equal pay in the public sector, together with 25 cantons and communes.  As self-regulation in companies had not resulted in a gender balance in management positions, the Government had initiated a consultation on a bill to revise Swiss company law and to set gender threshold-values for senior-executive positions in listed companies, according to which women would be required to make up at least 30 per cent of seats on boards of directors and 20 per cent on executive boards. 
 
In 2013, the Government had approved a package of 30 measures to be implemented by 2018 to improve the work-life balance and better integrate women in the labour market, including increasing cantonal and communal subsidies to defray the cost of day-care, proposing an alternative tax calculation which would not penalize married couples, and adopting the law allowing a deduction of 25,000 francs in day-care costs at the federal level and 10,000 francs at the cantonal level.  The 2016 data showed that pay discrimination, part-time work and time off all acted to reduce pension benefits of women at retirement age: women’s pension benefits were 37 per cent lower than men’s, and 60 per cent lower in terms of occupational pension benefits.  The pension reform package introduced by the Government was currently being discussed in the Parliament.  The implementation of a unified system of crime statistics in 2009 had significantly improved reporting of domestic violence.  Switzerland hoped to ratify the Istanbul Convention by 2018 while the federal bill on improving protection for victims of violence would be submitted to Parliament in 2017.  The 2014 divorce law set forth the principle of joint parental authority, and removed discrimination against children of unmarried parents in the area of child support.  The right of a homosexual couple to adopt the partner’s child had been approved in 2016.
 
Questions from the Experts
 
A Committee Expert raised a question on reservations, which Switzerland had been urged to withdraw and asked what were the obstacles to the withdrawal and whether there was a time-frame for the withdrawal.
 
Switzerland had a very narrow definition of gender equality, said the Expert and asked about measures in place to ensure that principles of gender equality and non-discrimination applied in line with Article 1 of the Convention. 
 
Why was the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women not directly applicable in courts, in difference to other international instruments such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights?  What activities were in place to ensure that judges and lawyers were sufficiently aware and trained in the provisions of the Convention?
 
What concrete efforts were being taken to strengthen the participation of women in peace processes around the globe, including to increase funding of civil society organizations working on peace, security and humanitarian issues? 
 
What procedures were in place to ensure that arms producing companies monitored and reported on the impact of these arms on human rights and violence against women?
 
The Expert commended the efforts of Switzerland in bringing together the peace and security agenda and preventing violent extremism, and asked about efforts to build the capacity of women to engage in fighting violent extremism in the local context.
 
Responses by the Delegation
 
The delegation said that the reservation to the Convention concerning matrimonial rights would be maintained.  The general ban on discrimination guaranteed equality and de facto equality and provided a basic foundation for equality between women and men, in line with the Convention.
 
International obligations of Switzerland existed, regardless of whether they were directly applicable or not.  In various cases, some aspects of the rights contained in the Convention had been invoked as directly applicable by courts. 
 
There were recent rulings that had cited the Convention: in the March 2014 ruling concerning a body of the Lausanne University which had excluded women, and which had mentioned Article 10 of the Convention; in the 2015 ruling from Zurich, judges had pointed to the Convention and the obligation of the State party to uphold gender equality; and in the 2016 ruling on a Tunisian national who suffered gender inequality, the court had explicitly mentioned the Convention.
 
Switzerland had been the first country in the world to adopt in 2007 the plan of action for the implementation of the United Nations Security Council resolution 1325 on women, peace and security.  Parliament had been included in the implementation process as well, and Switzerland was closely cooperating with civil society.  The plan of action to 2020 aimed to increase the role of women in peace and security, and to prevent violent extremism, including through encouraging the participation of women in political decision-making.  Measures would be taken to ensure that gender equality was mainstreamed in all plans and policies on countering violent extremism and other policies in the security domain.
 
Switzerland had supported the publication of the Committee’s General Comment in 2015 in German, which would soon be done in French, and this would support awareness raising about the Convention among university professors, teachers and judges.
 
In their follow-up questions, Committee Experts asked about financing for the women, peace and security agenda; the implementation of the Arms Trade Treaty and the measures in place to ensure that arms producing companies monitored and reported on the impact of the arms trade on human rights and violence against women; the eradication of illicit trade in small arms; and the Swiss strategy on small arms and light weapons.  Could the delegation explain and clarify the principle of applicability in the country?
 
Responding, Switzerland explained that it had in place a cascading system of information and that the Federal Office for Gender Equality had issued publications which were widely distributed among professionals.  It was not easy to broadcast and disseminate the Convention, but the Federal Office referred to it at every opportunity.  The Convention was used as a foundation for all work on gender equality and the fight against discrimination against women.
 
Switzerland placed great importance on the participation of civil society and considered the increased participation of women in peace and security a priority, and would do its utmost to support civil society organizations working on those issues.  Consultations were ongoing and it was premature to talk about financial support which would be provided.
 
The legal system in Switzerland was monist, which required the domestication of all international treaties ratified by Switzerland – this would also be the case with the Istanbul Convention which Switzerland would soon ratify.  The provisions of international law were directly applicable if they covered the rights and obligations of individuals, and were sufficiently clear in order to ensure their justiciability.  Tribunals decided on the direct applicability and the criterion was clarity of the provision.  It was not excluded that the provisions of Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, or its specific articles, could be one day declared directly applicable.
 
Arms trade with other countries was permitted if it was not in violation of international law; if a country of destination systematically violated human rights, all trade must cease.  Trade was also not allowed if there were indications that arms would be used in systematic and massive violations of human rights.  Those provisions were in accordance with the Arms Trade Treaty.
 
Questions from the Experts
 
With regard to the national gender machinery, a Committee Expert noted the provisions of the 2000 Constitution and the 1995 Federal Gender Equality Act, and said that the establishment of the Swiss Centre for Expertise for Human Rights represented a major step forward in strengthening the national machinery.  Switzerland should consider setting up a national human rights institution in accordance with the Paris Principles and ensure that the tools such as gender mainstreaming and gender budgeting were systematically used.  What were the obstacles to broadening the Federal Gender Equality Act?
 
Some forms of temporary special measures should be used to accelerate the process of de facto gender equality, said another Expert and asked how the use of quotas by some cantons would be monitored.  Were there any incentives for the recruitment of women in non-traditional areas of employment, or entry in non-traditional fields of education?
 
Would policies and programmes be placed to integrate migrant women in all sectors of the society?  Switzerland used the system of voluntary party quotas for the participation of women in political life – what plans were in place for the use of strict legislative and mandatory quotas for political parties and for strict sanctions for non-compliance?
 
Responses by the Delegation
 
Responding, the delegation said that the main mandate of the Federal Office for Gender Equality was to ensure equality between women and men; occasionally, it could look into the issues of equality in relation to transgender persons, but it could not venture far from the allocated mandate.  There were other federal institutions which dealt with inequality and discrimination on other grounds, for example disability.
 
Several years ago, the Swiss voters had turned down the introduction of mandatory political quotas; the Government was using the strategy of proposing quotas for men and women, which was showing some success.  The reporting mechanism was being used which allowed the monitoring of compliance, but there were no sanctions for non-compliance.  Most bodies, private and public alike, were open to the representation and participation of women, also because to do otherwise would damage their public image.
 
The Swiss Centre of Expertise for Human Rights had been created in 2009 as a joint pilot project by several universities; it had started activities in 2011 in six key areas, including on policy and gender.  The Centre had been independently evaluated and it was found that it had contributed to strengthening policies on human rights.  The main issue was the lack of independence of the Centre.  In July 2015, the pilot project had been extended for another five years.  The thematic area of policy and gender looked at several priorities, including structural and institutional discrimination based on gender, treatment of multiple discrimination, the human rights situation of trans and intersex persons, and others.
 
With regard to the integration of migrant women, the delegation said that the promotion of integration went hand in hand with the fight against discrimination and the removal of structural obstacles.  Since 2014, cantons had been implementing various measures aimed at fighting racial discrimination, including special support to victims of discrimination.  Migrant women benefitted from those measures.  The challenge was to ensure the quality of such consultations and promote their use by women.
 
In their follow-up questions, Committee Experts asked the delegation to clarify how exactly the national human rights institution accreditation body should take into consideration the particular circumstances of Switzerland.  The Federal Commission for Women, a very important body, did not apply for accreditation under the Paris Principles, and had only status C - there was a serious problem in Switzerland. 
 
Responding, the delegation said that the pilot project on the Centre of Expertise for Human Rights was extended by five years.  The new solution had been chosen by the Parliament which was Status Quo Plus model and the mandate and financing of the institution were currently being discussed.  In terms of accreditation, the delegation said that the work of the centre was guided by the Paris Principles which were adapted to the specific context of Switzerland.  It was a work in progress and it was not possible to say at the moment how it would look like when the project came to an end.
 
Questions from the Experts
 
A Committee Expert expressed concern about ill feeling in Switzerland towards Muslim migrants and asked about efforts taken in schools to curb the upsurge of racism and xenophobia in a society as open as Switzerland.  There was a need to encourage women and girls to lodge complaints with regard to early marriage or female genital mutilation, and also to involve religious authorities in those efforts.
 
The implementation of the Istanbul Convention was a priority in the fight against violence against women; Switzerland had signed the Convention in 2013 and planned to ratify it in 2018.  It was hard to understand why so much time was needed for the ratification and implementation.
 
What steps were being taken to raise the awareness of judges, prosecutors and layers on the special impact on women of sexual and other violence?  What was being done to eliminate corporal punishment?  Would Switzerland increase the number of shelters for victims of domestic violence and train police officers in extending support to victims?

Another Expert recognized the steps taken to address human trafficking, including expanding the scope of the relevant article of the Criminal Code and ratifying the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings, which had entered into force in 2013.  However, the prevalence of trafficking was a matter of concern in Switzerland, including lack of relevant data, and the fact that persons, particularly women, were being trafficked not only for purposes of sexual exploitation but also in other sectors.
 
Responses by the Delegation
 
Responding, the delegation said that hostility against certain groups must be addressed before it reached alarming levels, and that preventive measures aiming to increase communication and coexistence had been taken, including in schools.  There were also projects specifically linked to social media and how to react to discrimination expressed there.  Most cantons and cities had very active exchanges with religious communities in their areas and ran projects to promote inter-religious dialogue.  A Week of Religious Dialogue took place every year in November and was another opportunity to address religious discrimination and racism.  Stereotypes and racist hatred speech were a violation under the Criminal Code.
 
Switzerland had a very meticulous approach to the ratification of international instruments and there was a great deal to do to ensure that Switzerland could successfully implement the provisions of the Istanbul Convention.  Consultations were ongoing in this regard.  This was not to say that nothing was happening in terms of action to address violence against women – a package of 50 measures had been developed which would enable the country to start the implementation of the Istanbul Convention as soon as it was ratified.  So, it was not time lost.
 
A training and awareness raising programme on violence against women had been developed three years ago, and it targeted judges and public officials.  Cantonal Equality Offices were also active in raising awareness among the judicial staff on various issues related to violence against women and domestic violence.  Many cantons were also working on raising awareness on domestic violence among health and medical professionals. 
 
In 2009, the Federal Government had adopted 20 measures to deal with domestic violence which had just been evaluated.  The National Plan against Forced Marriage was in place and was being implemented, and the National Action Plan against Alcoholism also addressed issues of violence in the family.  Once the Istanbul Convention was ratified, a new action plan on domestic violence would be adopted.  Some cantons had specific laws against domestic violence, while many had established the system of managing threats.  A report with the catalogue of services offered in shelters for victims of domestic violence had been published this summer.
 
Corporal punishment had been prohibited in the Civil Code since 1978, while the 1990 amendments to the Criminal Code had strengthened the protection of children.  Switzerland considered that the intervention by the authorities could be sometimes harmful to children, and relied instead on the approach of awareness raising and modifying the conduct of parents.
 
Female genital mutilation was criminalized in Switzerland.  There were records of 14,700 women, chiefly among the migrant population, who were threatened with the practice.  A series of measures had been taken to address the practice between 2003 and 2009, and in 2013, the Network against Female Genital Mutilation had been set up to increase cooperation and collaboration on the matter, which would be active until 2019.  A budget of 300,000 francs had been allocated for the fight against female genital mutilation and would be directed at vulnerable communities.
 
The federal law against trafficking in persons was implemented differently in different cantons and this was the nature of federalism, said a delegate.  Nevertheless, the minimum legal standard was guaranteed throughout the country and the framework process Competo had been drafted in cooperation with the Federal Office for Migration and the police, which defined competences and remits of each body when a case of trafficking was reported.

Questions from the Experts
 
Although Swiss women were equally educated, there was no gender parity in Parliament or the public and private sectors, at all levels, said a Committee Expert.  Women represented 15 per cent of the members of the Council of the State, 32 per cent of the members of the National Council, and 28 per cent of the staff in the Federal Government.  The situation was similar at cantonal levels.
 
Why were women still underrepresented in Parliament, and in the Federal and Cantonal Governments?  What were the reasons for regress in this matter and for the refusal to adopt mandatory quotas for political representation?
 
What measures were being provided to protect female human rights defenders and their families?
 
Responses by the Delegation
 
The delegation said that Switzerland had seen that women were struggling to break into political life, even if they were very present in professional life.  They struggled with work-life balance and faced obstacles in the form of stereotypes. 
 
At the Federal level, the representation of women changed based on the result of the elections.  Cantons rolled out very successful training programmes for women candidates, and there was progress in the elimination of gender stereotypes in the media covering the elections.  A whole range of activities had been rolled out and was underway, and the delegation reiterated the commitment to continue to work on the issue.
 
There had been a popular vote several years ago which had overwhelmingly rejected the adoption of political quotas for women’s representation.
 
Switzerland had drafted guidelines on the protection of human rights defenders in 2013 and was strongly committed to supporting female human rights defenders and human rights defenders working on women’s rights.  The promotion and protection of human rights defenders was a part of the Swiss Human Rights Strategy 2016-2019, which had been disseminated to Swiss missions abroad and was part of training provided to Foreign Service staff. 
 
The issue of quotas was being discussed in Switzerland and there was an awareness on the need to increase the participation of women.  The popular vote on the matter had led to a hot debate and political quotas were seen as a blunt instrument not adapted to Swiss circumstances.  Switzerland was very attached to the notion of direct democracy and was attached to the implementation of referenda results.  There were instances where quotas were being applied by some bodies, for example, extra-Parliamentary Commissions had adopted a system of flexible quotas, which had made a huge difference.
 
Questions from the Experts

In connection to measures to end discrimination in the field of education, a Committee Expert noted that the choices of the youth were highly gender segregated, with boys opting for science, technology, engineering and mathematics which were held in high esteem by the labour market.  This contributed to a significant pay gap between women and men in the flourishing economy.
 
Would Switzerland analyse and change its present educational system at all levels of study in line with article 5 of the Convention?  What were the next steps to promote the participation of girls in science, technology, engineering and mathematics studies and support a choice of gender atypical professions?  
 
Replies by the Delegation
 
Responding to the questions and comments made by the Committee Experts, the delegation shared the concern about segregation in educational and professional choices but stressed that the educational system was effective as the unemployment rates were low, including among youth, women and men alike.
 
In Berne, the new educational plan contained a goal on gender equality in education, and students were encouraged to use gender respectful language and to challenge prejudices.  Gender and equality were integrated in the content of curricula at every level of education, and also in professional vocational training.  A variety of pedagogical instruments were available to teachers in addressing issues of gender equality.
 
There were projects to improve gender equality in professional carriers, to ensure balanced representation of women and men in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and to increase the participation of women and girls in universities.  One particular measure that had been taking place for 20 years in 19 participating cantons was the holding of the day on gender equality, whereby students in fifth, sixth and seventh years of school were encouraged to discover the world of work and explore carriers they were not typically considered.
 
Only those companies which respected gender equality, including pay equity, could benefit from State contracts; the State could not monitor this on a case-by case basis, and companies had the obligation to provide the proof during the application process.  The new law obliged companies with at least 50 employees to carry out a gender equality analysis every four years, by an independent external body.  Over the past several years, 900 cases of discrimination against women at work had been brought to courts, which dealt with sexual harassment and pay discrimination. 
 
Redundancy because of pregnancy or maternity was illegal, but statistics on cases were not available.  There was a genuine problem in reconciling family and professional life and certain employers had concerns about the productivity of workers who were either pregnant or were already parents.  Switzerland did not have a compulsory paternity leave on a federal level; in reality, many fathers benefited from paid days of leave following the birth of a child either because of cantonal provisions or contracts with the employers.  A popular initiative had been launched in May 2016 calling for paternity leave for the benefit of the whole family; if the initiative gathered a sufficient number of signatures by November 2017, the Government would have to pronounce itself on the proposal.
 
Part-time work was a measure which could promote reconciliation between family and professional life in Switzerland, and it was available to men as well.  An initiative was in place to facilitate transition to part-time for men who wished to do so and to encourage employers to be more sensitive.  As of July 2013, parents could reduce their working time by 20 per cent following the birth of a child, provided that the level of employment did not go below 60 per cent.  Up to 2015, 65 per cent of the beneficiaries of the measure were women and 35 were men, while in 2016, 59 per cent were women and 41 per cent were men.  The Federal Council had announced a law on a simplified procedure for persons wishing to change their gender.
 
Questions from the Experts
 
A Committee Expert asked about provisions in place that discriminated against those in part-time employment in matters of disability pensions, the “wage police”, and about legislative projects in place to increase access to justice for transgender persons.
 
Responses by the Delegation
 
Switzerland recognized the negative impact of part-time work on disability insurance, said the delegation and added that the legislation on disability insurance was being amended in order to eliminate this discrimination.
 
The idea behind the “wage police” was to urge companies to comply with the provisions of conducting a gender pay gap analysis every four years.  There were more than 8,000 companies in Switzerland which employed more than 50 employees, and the impact of their compliance with the provision would have a significant positive impact on the situation of equal pay.
 
Questions from the Experts
 
A Committee Expert noted the growing challenges for Switzerland under the Agenda 2030 vision: every twelfth resident was affected by poverty, and the inequality gap was growing with half of the national riches remaining in the hands of two per cent of the population.
 
Did social protection policies and measures at the federal and cantonal measures have a specific gender equality approach?  At the global level, did the poverty reduction policies consider gender equality as a goal to achieve in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals? 
 
There was a need for Switzerland to revise some of its international development policies and align them fully with the Addis Ababa Guidelines on Financing for Development.  Tax policies must respect the commitments under the Agenda 2030, especially in the areas of public accounting, financial secrecy policies, and company reporting.
 
Responses by the Delegation
 
The Constitution recognized the fundamental right to social protection, which was the key tool in the fight against poverty; the social security system was under the federal competence, while social aid was the responsibility of cantons.  Social aid differed from one canton to another; recommendations were published for social authorities which were not compulsory but could be a yardstick to measure progress.  The programme to fight poverty had been implemented since 2014 at the cantonal and communal levels; the Federation had allocated nine million francs for the purpose, and each canton had their own budgets in addition.

The report had been published in September 2016 on illicit financial flows from foreign countries, which provided an overview of measures taken to prevent the transfer of capital linked to illegal activities such as corruption, criminal activities, and tax evasion.  Switzerland supported international measures in this regard and had adopted international regulations on money laundering and financing of terrorism.
 
Questions from the Experts
 
A Committee Expert asked what was meant by “joint parental authority” and asked the delegation to reassure the Committee that it differed from physical custody of the child.  Shared physical custody led to two problems: the custody might be given to fathers even in cases involving domestic violence, and it might decrease child support. 
 
The starting point in determining the child support was not the child’s economic needs, but the economic abilities of the debtor – usually the father, which meant that fathers in some instances were relieved of the responsibility to care and provide for the children.  Could the delegation explain how the child support system worked?
 
Responses by the Delegation
 
The delegation explained that parental authority pertained to the rights of the child and there was no doubt that violence or domestic violence interfered with the ability of parents to exercise their parental rights.  According to the law in force since 2014, violence could be a reason to revoke or limit parental rights and restrict contacts with the child.
 
Concluding Remarks
 
SYLVIE DURRER, Director of the Swiss Federal Office for Gender Equality, Federal Ministry of the Interior, reaffirmed that de facto and de jure equality was a priority in Switzerland and said that the ratification of the Istanbul Convention would be the culmination of the many measures taken to protect victims of violence against women.  The adoption of political quotas was not possible in the current political context, but Switzerland would continue to integrate a gender perspective and fight gender stereotypes.
 
YOKO HAYASHI, Committee Chairperson, commended Switzerland for its efforts and encouraged it to address various recommendations which the Committee would issue with the purpose of the more comprehensive implementation of the Convention throughout the State party.

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