Town battles booming sex parlour business
The town of Payerne, population 9,500, may not be a household name as a Swiss tourist destination but it has gained notoriety locally as an attraction for its massage parlours — 30 of them, according to one count.
The municipality in the canton of Vaud is a little off the beaten track for most tourists, located roughly midway between Lausanne and Bern, the Swiss capital.
It is home, however, to two military barracks and a flourishing sex trade, carried out through the parlours.
But the municipal council, preferring to see other kinds of economic activity, is taking steps to close most of them down, Le Matin Dimanche reported on Sunday.
The sex trade is overshadowing other activities, such as a plan announced in June for the biggest solar energy project in Switzerland.
The 30-million-franc project, bankrolled by Groupe E Greenwatt, aims to install 100,000 square metres of solar panels on the roofs of homes and other buildings to produce enough energy to power the entire municipality.
With such ambitions, councillors are upset the community is becoming known for its sex parlours.
The estimated number of 30 such establishments compares with 20 in Yverdon-les-Bains, a town with three times the population, Le Matin Dimanche said.
“I have no desire to see my municipality seen as the backdoor (for prostitution) in the region,” the newspaper quotes municipal councillor Djorde Ney saying.
The municipality has passed new regulations on the prostitution activity designed to ensure that many of the massage parlors will disappear from the town’s downtown.
The restrictive regulations, among other things, ban prostitution from apartment buildings.
Many of the salons are located in regular apartments with signs simply affixed to entrance doors advertising the women on offer.
A photo published by Le Matin Dimanche of one such door, taped with images of scantily clad women, suggests that massages are largely ancillary services.
Prostitution in the canton of Vaud, as in other parts of Switzerland, is not illegal but it is locally regulated.
Le Matin Dimanche says the sex trade is not directly linked with the military bases, at least not according to prostitutes interviewed by the paper.
The municipality is more a victim of its geographic location, wedged between Lake Neuchâtel and the town of Fribourg and on main roads that connect the Vaud capital and Bern, the newspaper said.