Drive-through 'sex boxes' open in Zurich

Aug 27, 2013, 01:33 IST | Agencies

The sex boxes were made in an attempt to reduce street prostitution and make sex trade safer

In an attempt to regulate prostitution and move it out of the city centre Zurich has opened its first ever drive-in ‘sex boxes’.

Discreet: The drive-in sex booths are an effort to improve prostitutes' working conditions and take power away from the pimps. The boxes will also have posters showing what acceptable behaviour is, including a ban on photography and more than one customer at a time. Pic/AFP

There are nine garage-like wooden boxes that clients can park their cars in and use.

The boxes are equipped with alarm buttons, a security guard, posters encouraging the use of condoms and safe sex, and bins to dispose of used condoms.

The boxes only accommodate one car at time, there can only be one person per car, and clients must be over 18.

Authorities in the Swiss city want to stop sex workers from openly attracting clients in the city’s Sihlquai district, so have moved the trade to an industrial estate.

“Prostitution is a business basically. We cannot prohibit it, so we want to control it in favour of the sex workers and the population,” said Michael Herzig, director of social services for sex workers in the city.

“Because if we do not control it, organised crime is taking over, and the pimps are taking over,” he added.

Surrounded by a high fence, there is a track which clients drive around, choose a prostitute and negotiate a price. They then park in one of the boxes.

In town, clients take prostitutes to a nearby forest or outside the city, where the sex workers often find themselves in dangerous situations.

“Here, they remain onsite and can deal with customers quickly,” said Ursula Kocher, director of Flora Dora, a support network for prostitutes.

“The problem with the Sihlquai is that there are quite a lot of women, and it’s a normal street in the middle of Zurich and all the neighbours and all these people living there had troubles because of the sex workers,” she explained.

Men who solicit street workers outside three new approved zones, including the sex boxes, will face fines of up to 450 Swiss francs (£310).

Just over 52 per cent of Zurich’s population voted to introduce the boxes. But not everyone agrees.

The installation cost 2.1 million francs (Rs 14.6 crore) and operating costs will be over £480,0000 (Rs 4.8 cr) a year.

The year in which prostitution was made legal in Switzerland

Rs 14.6 cr
Cost of installing the nine sex boxes

Rs 4.8 cr
Yearly costs of operating the sex boxes 

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