• Switzerland edition
 
Zurich's drive-in 'sex boxes' off to slow start
Prostitute stands in front of 'sex boxes' on opening day. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

Zurich's drive-in 'sex boxes' off to slow start

Published: 27 Aug 2013 12:20 GMT+02:00
Updated: 27 Aug 2013 12:20 GMT+02:00

Throngs of reporters but only a handful of sex workers were at the opening of the Zurich site at 7pm.
   
Television cameras, photographers and journalists jostled to get through the high fence-gate, discreetly displaying the red umbrella icon that designates a regulated sex work area.
   
A few minutes later, a prostitute sitting in the passenger seat of a caravan arrived, covering her face.
   
Within the hour, the number or workers had only increased to four, all flatly refusing to have their pictures taken or talk to the media, according to an AFP photographer at the site.
   
The drive-in, which as darkness fell was bathed in colourful lights, 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 looking like parking metres had been installed at the last minute.

The prostitutes who work here will be required to contribute five francs ($5.40) each night in taxes to help Zurich cover the cost of running the place.
   
The drive-in, which has room to accommodate around 50 prostitutes, will be open every night from 7pm until 5am and is one of three spaces in the city where prostitutes can work legally.
   
With the opening of the new site however, Sihlquai, Zurich's most notorious red-light street, where barely-dressed street-walkers have long openly plied their trade to the dismay of residents and businesses, has become off-limits to prostitution.
   
Before the ban took effect, AFP visited Sihlquai, where police say some 100 women had been working, seeing prostitutes standing on street corners in little more than their underwear, and sometimes even less.
   
One woman wiggled her naked behind at passing cars as a mother cycled past with her young child and a bag of groceries.
   
Michael Herzig, director of social services for sex workers in the city, said that since the city could not ban prostitution altogether, "we want to control it in favour of the sex workers and the population".
   
"Because if we do not control it, organised crime is taking over, and the pimps are taking over," he told AFP.
   
The drive-in, approved by 52.6 percent of Zurich voters in a March 2012 referendum, is designed to be safer for the sex workers, with security guards on hand to ensure there is only one man in each car that enters as well alarm buttons in each "sex box", on-site doctors and social workers.
   
The "sex boxes" have been built to make it easy for the passenger but difficult for the driver to get out of the car, said Ursula Kocher, head of the Flora Dora support network for prostitutes which will help operate the new drive-in.
   
Kocher stressed the dangers of street prostitution, pointing out that clients can drive anywhere with the prostitutes, who have no protection if the situation turns violent.
   
However, some prostitutes have voiced concern that the strictly controlled environment of the drive-in would scare off their customers, and Zurich police said it remained unclear whether they and their clients would agree to the move.
   
"That is the big question. We have no idea how many women will show up," police spokesman Mario Cortesi told AFP.
   
While there was little activity at the opening Monday, the prostitutes and their customers may well be waiting for the media spotlight to go black: after the first hour, all the reporters were asked to leave.
   
Cortesi said some 1,200 women -- mainly from Eastern Europe -- registered as sex workers last year in Switzerland's largest city. But since only newcomers to the trade are listed and many likely work illegally, the true number of prostitutes in the city remains unclear.
   
The city is set to evaluate the project after it has been operating for three months.

Malcolm Curtis (news@thelocal.ch)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Nadal calls time as Federer advances
Nadal: calling it quits for the season after upset loss. Photo: AFP

Nadal calls time as Federer advances

Teenage wildcard Borna Coric stunned Rafael Nadal in the quarterfinals of the Swiss Indoors tennis tournament in Basel on Friday, a defeat which marked the end of the Spaniard's season. Home favourite Roger Federer meanwhile claimed a spot in the semifinals. READ  

Glacier 3000 opens new mountaintop bridge
The new bridge connects Glacier 3000 with Scex Rouge. Photo: Peak Walk by Tissot

Glacier 3000 opens new mountaintop bridge

The new ‘Peak Walk’ at Glacier 3000, the world’s first suspension bridge to connect two mountain peaks, was inaugurated on Friday. READ  

Snake smugglers caught by Swiss border guards
Two boa constrictors were found in Basel. Photo: Anup Shah

Snake smugglers caught by Swiss border guards

Swiss border guards discovered four snakes during the course of two separate controls this week, federal customs authorities said on Friday. READ  

Report: Switzerland ideal for Mars simulator
UNIL's report said Switzerland would be ideal for a Mars project. Photo: UNIL

Report: Switzerland ideal for Mars simulator

Switzerland could play a vital part in the mission to Mars, according to a report by the University of Lausanne (UNIL) which concludes that Romandie is the perfect place to test conditions faced by humans in a journey to the red planet. READ  

Basel private bank raided in German tax probe
Safra Sarasin is based in Basel. Photo: Michelle Kinsey Bruns

Basel private bank raided in German tax probe

Police in Switzerland have raided the offices of the private bank Safra Sarasin as part of a probe by German authorities into alleged tax fraud, Swiss newspaper Tages Anzeiger reported on Friday. READ  

Swiss banker arrested over Hoeness tax fraud
Hoeness was jailed for tax evasion to the tune of 28.5 million euros. Photo: Stuart Franklin/Pool/AFP

Swiss banker arrested over Hoeness tax fraud

Polish authorities said Thursday they had arrested a Swiss banker wanted by Germany on suspicion of tax fraud that a report said may involve the jailed former Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeness. READ  

Federer reaches quarters in hometown event
Federer celebrates another win in Basel. Photo: AFP/Fabrice Coffini

Federer reaches quarters in hometown event

Roger Federer shrugged off dropping the first set against journeyman Denis Istomin on Thursday before hitting back to win 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 and reach the Swiss Indoors quarterfinals. READ  

Hitler coffee cream pot company faces closure
Hitler and Mussolini featured on the creamer lids. Photo: SRF

Hitler coffee cream pot company faces closure

The company that designed the coffee cream pot lids featuring images of Hitler and Mussolini is facing bankruptcy after Swiss supermarket chain Migros said it planned to terminate its contract with the Bern-based outfit. READ  

Body of Czech climber found after 40 years
The body was found near Mount Titlis. Photo: Caroline Bishop/The Local

Body of Czech climber found after 40 years

The body of a Czech hiker who disappeared 40 years ago after an avalanche in Switzerland has been found on a glacier in the Bernese alps, Bern cantonal police reported on Thursday. READ  

Doctor: Schumacher needs 'years to recover'
Schumacher suffered severe head injuries in a ski accident in December. Photo: AFP

Doctor: Schumacher needs 'years to recover'

A French doctor treating stricken former Formula One champion Michael Schumacher said on Thursday that the German ace was making progress, but will need years to recover. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
National
Red faces at Migros over Hitler and Mussolini coffee cream pots
National
Majority of Swiss back proposed new immigration curbs: poll
Features
Eritrean asylum seekers find refuge in Swiss monastery town
National
Expat American professor disputes 'unjust' Swiss citizenship rejection
National
Sputtering eurozone drags down Swiss economic growth forecast
Features
Swiss-based English expat writer lauds immigrant 'brains and brawn'
International
Our survey: Switzerland third priciest for food and drink from back home
National
Zurich market gardener sets world 'record' for heaviest pumpkin
National
Report: Switzerland's residents richer than before economic crash
Features
Geneva lab sleuths use high tech to help art world uncover fakes
National
Father of Scot missing since early September fears Swiss trauma
National
Foreign women give birth to rising share of newborns: latest figures
National
'Giant's penis' bloom in Basel uni botanical garden bigger than ever
National
Switzerland's voters reject public health insurance proposal
National
Zooming foreign immigration continues to boost Swiss population
National
Scientific study rings alarm over wellbeing of Swiss cows with bells
National
Geneva MP seeks ban on charging for tap water in restaurants
Business & Money
Switzerland's residents top world financial wealth list: Allianz report
National
Saint Maurice abbey in Valais celebrates 1,500 years of history
National
Streaming movie video service Netflix arrives in Switzerland
National
Professional Chilean base jumper dives to death in Swiss Alps
Education
ETH Zurich remains top university in Europe: QS world rankings
National
Switzerland's housing vacancy rate jumps: new federal figures
National
Swiss football club fires team masseuse over explicit sex video
National
Geneva police arrest easyJet passenger over hand luggage row
Business & Money
Latest forecasts for Swiss economic growth turn less bullish
Sport
Formula One legend Schumacher to continue treatment at Swiss home
National
Former federal planning official calls for nine Swiss cantons
Features
The Local gets the lowdown on mushroom picking in Switzerland
National
Virgin boss Richard Branson's son rescued from peak of Matterhorn
National
Swiss President Didier Burkhalter's commute turns Twitter sensation
Features
High-tech cameras give dizzy view of Eiger's north face (VIDEO)
Politics
Baden municipal council strips 'nude selfies mayor' of duties
Business & Money
Switzerland stays atop competitiveness table for sixth year
National
Federal parliament secretary agrees to step down over nude selfies
National
Swiss residents pick Swedes as ideal European soul mates: survey
National
Zurich officials call project to move prostitutes to 'sex boxes' a success
National
Swiss gays recognized as parents of child born to surrogate mother
Health
Increase in mountain bike accidents keeps Swiss hospitals busy
National
Swiss policeman belatedly honoured for saving Jews from Holocaust
National
'Suicide tourists' to Switzerland double in three years: study
National
Swiss Post SMS scheme gets stamp of approval after pilot project
Business & Money
American tax evasion crackdown hits Swiss private banks' bottom line
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

2,229
jobs available