Switzerland: Zurich launches 'sex drive-ins'
August 26, 2013 -- Updated 2251 GMT (0651 HKT)
- Sex workers will operate from garage-style structures with alarm buttons and guards
- The move is intended to take prostitution off the streets of Zurich, says project leader
- Some 30 to 40 women are expected to work at the site in Sihlquai each night
- The women can get health checkups on site, as well as advice from social workers
(CNN) -- In an attempt to reduce open street prostitution and to improve security for sex workers, Switzerland's largest city, Zurich, is opening "sex drive-ins" Monday.
The nine garage-style structures, located in Sihlquai, a former industrial zone in the city, are equipped with alarm buttons and guarded by security personnel to ensure the safety of the prostitutes. Customers are not allowed to leave the area with the sex workers.
Read more: Brazil drops 'happy being a prostitute' ad campaign
"Prostitution has escalated in the city," said Michael Herzig, from the Zurich social services department. "It was done out in the open on the street and men harassed passers-by.
"It was noisy and dirty because men took the prostitutes to a side street and left used condoms on the streets. The drive-ins are more discreet and safer."
Sex workers learn English for World Cup
Spain making money from prostitutes
Herzig leads the project, which has cost 2.4 million Swiss francs ($2.6 million) to set up.
"The project is extremely controversial. Prostitution is about morals and religion. But we leave these things aside and see it as a business. The humanitarian aspect is more important for us," said Herzig.
Around 30 to 40 women are expected to work at the site each night. Sex workers have to pay 5 Swiss francs per night to make use of the so-called "sex boxes," but customers don't have to pay an entrance fee.
Read more: Ahead of Brazil World Cup, free English classes planned for prostitutes
The drive-ins are open daily from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. and can only be accessed by car. Drivers have to follow a clearly marked route to get to the area, where customers and sex workers can discuss the services offered and agree on a price. The client can then drive into the allocated box, where the service is provided.
There are also showers, toilets, a kitchen and washing machines for the women to use, as well as an advice center where they can seek help from social workers. A gynecologist comes in once a week to offer health checkups for the women.
The city's social services department is running the whole operation and also offers crash courses in German and self-defense courses for the women on site. "All of this will enhance the sex workers' living and working conditions," Herzig said.
Prostitution and consumption of paid sex are legal in Switzerland. Prostitutes are considered self-employed and are liable for taxation.
"We are trying to promote the independence and self-determination of the sex workers," he said. "It's not a unique concept. We went to Utrecht in the Netherlands and Cologne and Essen in Germany, where similar projects exist, to speak to organizers. In Utrecht it's been successfully implemented since 1986."
As well as backing from the authorities, the project in Zurich has a democratic mandate: A referendum was held in March 2012, with 52% of voters in favor.
Today's five most popular stories
Part of complete coverage on
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 2245 GMT (0645 HKT)
Pakistan Taliban say the school attack was revenge for the killing of children in a military offensive -- but they are being pressed by defections to ISIS.
A group that claims it hacked Sony Pictures has posted a public threat against moviegoers who see Sony's "The Interview."
December 18, 2014 -- Updated 0243 GMT (1043 HKT)
The gunman behind the deadly siege in Sydney this week was not on a security watch list, and Australia's Prime Minister wants to know why.
December 18, 2014 -- Updated 0948 GMT (1748 HKT)
Bestselling author Marjorie Liu had set her sights on being a lawyer, but realized it wasn't what she wanted to do for the rest of her life.
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 2027 GMT (0427 HKT)
CNN's Matthew Chance looks into an HRW report saying Russia has "legalized discrimination against LGBT people."
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 0212 GMT (1012 HKT)
The Sydney siege has brought home some troubling truths to Australians. They are not immune to what are often called "lone-wolf" terror attacks.
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 0012 GMT (0812 HKT)
A social media campaign condemning Islamophobia under the hashtag #illridewithyou has taken off after Sydney hostage siege.
Bill Cosby has kept quiet as sexual assault allegations mounted against him, but his wife, Camille, finally spoke out in defense of her husband.
December 15, 2014 -- Updated 1144 GMT (1944 HKT)
China-bound AirAsia flight turns back to Bangkok after passenger throws water over crew member.
December 15, 2014 -- Updated 1026 GMT (1826 HKT)
It takes Nepalese eye doctor, Sanduk Ruit about five minutes to change someone's life.
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 1054 GMT (1854 HKT)
This epic journey crosses 13,000 kilometers, eight countries over 21 days. Find out where.
December 19, 2014 -- Updated 1431 GMT (2231 HKT)
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.