• Switzerland's news in English
 

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

Published: 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
Two-year-old dies after being hit by car in Ticino
Photo: Ticino cantonal police

Two-year-old dies after being hit by car in Ticino

A two-year-old boy from the canton of Ticino died in a hospital on Monday from injuries suffered last week when he was struck by a car on a private road, police said. READ  

Woman drives into five cars in parking lot
Photo: Schaffhausen cantonal police

Woman drives into five cars in parking lot

An 82-year-old woman was taken to hospital for an evaluation on Monday after she drove her car into five vehicles parked outside a Schaffhausen shopping centre, police said. READ  

'Nadal still man to beat' in French Open: Federer
Photo: AFP

'Nadal still man to beat' in French Open: Federer

Switzerland's 17-time Grand Slam winner Roger Federer on Monday said he still believed Rafael Nadal was the favourite to win the French Open next month despite the Spanish star's troubled start to the clay court season. READ  

Street food (finally!) surfaces in Swiss cities
Photo: Caroline Bishop

Street food (finally!) surfaces in Swiss cities

Street food offers an alternative, lower cost style of dining that has been almost impossible to find in Swiss cities. The Local's Caroline Bishop finds out that this state of affairs is rapidly changing — to the delight of many expats. READ  

Toddler vanishes near Reuss River in Aargau
Photo: Aargau cantonal police

Toddler vanishes near Reuss River in Aargau

For the second time in a week a two-year-old child has gone missing in Switzerland. READ  

Derailment disrupts Lausanne-Yverdon trains
Photo: RTSInfo/Screenshot

Derailment disrupts Lausanne-Yverdon trains

Passenger rail traffic will remain disrupted for several days on the Lausanne-Yverdon route in the canton of Vaud following the derailment of a freight train carrying hazardous goods at the weekend, Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) said on Sunday. READ  

Bern sends aid team to Nepal earthquake zone
Swiss aid team head to Nepal from Zurich. Photo: Rega

Bern sends aid team to Nepal earthquake zone

The Swiss government on Sunday sent a team of experts to Nepal to evaluate humanitarian needs there a day after a magnitude 7.9 earthquake killed at least 2,500 people and injured thousands more, while destroying buildings and triggering deadly avalanches. READ  

Swiss business team seeks Iran trade deals
World leaders met in Lausanne this month to map out Iran nuclear deal. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

Swiss business team seeks Iran trade deals

A Swiss business delegation travelled to Iran over the weekend for the first such visit in ten years in a bid to expand trade ties, the federal department of finance says. READ  

Italian financier arrested in Lugano for tax fraud
Jean-Paul Belmondo and Alain Delon in gangster film Borsalino. Photo: AFP

Italian financier arrested in Lugano for tax fraud

Swiss police have arrested fugitive Italian financier Marco Marenco, wanted for fraud and tax evasion in his country, in Lugano, according to police and media reports. READ  

Foreigner head count nears two million
Photo: Christian Cueni

Foreigner head count nears two million

Immigration continues to boost the Swiss population, which grew to 8,236,600 at the end of 2014, an increase of 96,000 persons (up 1.2 percent) from a year earlier, according to new provisional figures released by the federal statistics office. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
National
New ranking downgrades the 'power' of Switzerland's passport
Features
Swiss hotel management schools serve up 'world best' recipe
Sport
Invasion of frogs forces early end to Zurich football game
National
French president Hollande basks in good vibes from first Swiss visit
National
Segways win approval for operation on Swiss bicycle lanes
National
Joan Baez and Sting in lineup for this summer's Paléo music festival
National
Second CERN club skier dies from avalanche in Valais Alps
Sport
Lausanne and IOC celebrate a century of Olympism
National
Bern waters down criteria for beer that can be labelled ‘Swiss’
National
VIDEO: Swiss television satire clip ridicules Americans on ski slopes
National
Internet giant Google named most attractive employer in Switzerland
National
Immigration remains top election issue for Swiss voters: opinion poll
National
Environmental bureau ranks Zurich first among Europe's 'sootfree cities'
National
Zurich crane-climbing stunt by teenager flags 'roofer' concerns
Features
Mobility takes off as young urban Swiss catch the car-sharing bug
Education
THE ranks EPFL among seven 'fastest rising young universities'
Features
Six steps for expats to get along better with the Swiss
Business & Money
Ethical Coffee Company aims to beat Nespresso in home market
National
Use of temporary staffing continues to rise in Switzerland
National
Swiss foreign affairs minister touted as candidate for top UN job
National
One of Switzerland's most celebrated artists dies in Lucerne at 106
Business & Money
Swiss luxury brand Tag Heuer announces plans for smartwatch
National
Valais lights up 13 mountain peaks for 200th anniversary
Business & Money
Switzerland to avoid recession this year: Credit Suisse forecast
Business & Money
Europe's tallest hotel pitched for Swiss mountain village
National
Exlusive interview: surviving Swiss cousin remembers Anne Frank
National
New Credit Suisse chief executive 'offers hope for Africans'
Features
Top tips to help you find an apartment in Switzerland
Business & Money
American expat to make way for African as Credit Suisse CEO
National
Rising Swiss gender pay gap above European Union average
National
Political deal reached to enact Swiss holiday home restrictions
National
Optimism drives this year's Geneva International Motor show
National
Robust Swiss economy beats forecasts for 2014: government
Sport
Federer scores upset win against Djokovic for seventh Dubai title
National
Swiss train in collision near Zurich ignored stop signal: SBB
Technology
Switzerland best in world for per capita European patent filings
Education
New EPFL building to showcase art and science 'under one roof'
National
Same-sex marriage supported by most Swiss: opinion polls
National
New study finds Switzerland is world's best place to retire
National
Army official calls for Swiss women to undergo military training
National
New Swiss health campaign combats smoking as 'norm' for too many
Culture
Abba star Frida records song about first ascent of the Matterhorn
National
Swiss federal government unveils EU immigration quotas bill
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

4,701
jobs available
?>