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SEX TRADE

Zurich ‘sex boxes’ to open next year

Drive-in sex boxes will be opening in an industrial area of Zurich next summer as city officials attempt to put a lid on prostitution in downtown red-light districts.

Zurich 'sex boxes' to open next year
Model shows what sex boxes will look like (Photo: City of Zurich)

City council on Monday approved the installation of the boxes, meant to be places where prostitutes can take customers and conduct their business discreetly, in the Alststetten area.

The boxes, which are used in various German cities, are covered, garage-like structures wide enough for a car to be parked.

Approved by city voters in March after discussions for a couple of years, plans call for them to be operational in August, with construction starting in May at a cost of around 2.4 million francs.

At the same time the city will be closing off to the sex trade areas, such as the Sihiquai, where open prostitution has become a social problem, often involving crime, violence and disruption for residents.

The city is providing social and health care services and maintaining a road barrier on the Zahringerstrasse as part of its package of measures to control the sex trade.

Prostitution is legal in Switzerland but managing red light districts has proved to be a challenge in Zurich and other cities.

The country’s largest city is introducing licencing requirements in January for street prostitutes and for those plying their trade in “salons”.
 

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PROSTITUTION

Sex workers renting Airbnb apartments in Swiss capital: report

More and more sex workers in Bern are renting apartments through apartment sites like Airbnb or using hotel rooms to carry out their business, according to a new report on prostitution in the Swiss capital.

Sex workers renting Airbnb apartments in Swiss capital: report
File photo: Depositphotos

Prostitution is Switzerland with sex workers required to register with local authorities and pay taxes.

But while Bern is currently home to 28 licensed brothels, this number is sinking and there is growing opposition to plans for new establishments.

At the same time, there is a rise in the number of sex workers temporarily renting out apartments using sites like Airbnb, as Bern daily newspaper Der Bund reports.

Read also: Zurich's 'sex boxes' for prostitutes given official thumbs up

There were 12 reported cases in the canton of Bern from April 2017 to April 2018, although the real number is thought to be much higher.

A police spokesperson described the figure as “insignificant” and noted that most of the women involved lacked the necessary work and residence permits required to work in a legal establishment.

But Bern cantonal parliamentarian Christa Ammann, who heads up a specialist unit conducting research into the sex industry, says rules introduced in 2013 requiring brothels to register have made sex work more expensive.

The latest annual report into sex work in the city notes prostitutes are required from 100 to 150 Swiss francs a day to rent a room in a legal brothel. However, there are dozens of apartments listed on Airbnb for less than this amount.

The trend towards the use of private apartments for sex work runs counter to the intention of rule changes in Bern in 2013 which are designed to protect prostitutes from abuse and exploitation.

Read also: Eighty Thai women forced into prostitution in Switzerland

But despite this tendency, police are positive about the new rules, arguing “the situation has completely calmed down” and that authorities now have much tighter control.

Ammann, meanwhile, is calling for prostitution to be completely decriminalized.

Prostitution is legal in Switzerland although individual cantons have different rules on where and when it can be practised. Forcing someone into prostitution is, however, illegal.

Recently, a women's rights group in Zurich called for a Swedish-style ban on sex work in Switzerland, using the video above in its campaign. In the Scandinavian country, it is illegal to pay for sex with clients.

But groups in Switzerland including the Swiss Aids Federation have said such a ban on prostitution would drive sex work underground and make the fight against exploitation of women even more difficult.