Switzerland’s first sex drive-in a success

Oct 28, 2013
Sex Work News
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Switzerland’s first sex drive-in, which opened two months ago in a bid to take prostitution off Zurich’s streets, has been a success, the city said Tuesday following an initial evaluation.

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“After two months I can say that this guarded prostitution site is working,” Michael Herzig, director of social services for sex workers in the city, told reporters.

Zurich opened the fenced-in site, which is only accessible by car, in an industrial sector on the outskirts of town in August to move sex workers out of the city center and provide them with a safer working environment.

The drive-in, approved by 52.6 percent of Zurich voters in a March 2012 referendum, has a track where the sex workers can show off their assets and negotiate a price, and nine so-called “sex boxes” where they and their clients can park and conclude the transaction.

Machines resembling parking metres have been installed, and the prostitutes are required to contribute 5.0 Swiss francs ($5.40, 4.05 euros) each night in taxes to help Zurich cover the cost of running the place.

Security guards are on hand to ensure there is only one man in each car coming in, as well alarm buttons in each “sex box”, on-site doctors and social workers.

“We did not have any major problems, such as with pimps, violence or the neighbourhood,” Herzig said.

He said he was surprised things had gone so smoothly.

An average of 14 sex workers had used the site each day since it opened, he said.

That is fewer than half the 30-odd who had been working on Sihlquai, in downtown Zurich, the city’s most notorious red-light street until prostitution was banned there in August.

But the figures do suggest prostitutes are embracing the new system, despite concerns the strictly controlled environment would scare away clients, he said.

Herzig said the tight control was key to its success, with the constant presence of municipal staff helping sex workers operate beyond the clutches of pimps.

He said similar schemes in other European cities had been hobbled by a lack of resources that saw pimps move in and take control.

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Ernest Greene
Ernest Greene
7 years ago

I’d like to know what the girls who work in this place really think about the system and how many of them stick with it. Government operated brothels have a bad history of repressive policies on the job and requiring information from sex workers that becomes a part of their permanent record, making it difficult to transition to any other occupation.

Michael Whiteacre
Michael Whiteacre
7 years ago
Reply to  Ernest Greene

I would lie to know, as well. I’ve seen some talk about ‘ghettoization’ but nothing yet from the sex workers who work within the system. Maggie McNeill addressed a Swiss scheme that involves licenses and registration here: http://maggiemcneill.wordpress.com/2012/12/01/that-was-the-week-that-was-48/ Swiss prostitution laws vary from canton to canton, and Zurich seems determined to greatly increase the number of women who work illegally: “Zurich…officials [claim that sex work] has got out of control…street prostitution is being moved to three designated areas to try to make it safer and more discreet…sex workers…will have to be at least 18 years old…brothels [will] have to [buy]… Read more »

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