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 29, 2014 -- Updated 1427 GMT (2227 HKT)
The missing AirAsia jet probably crashed into the sea, Indonesia's top rescue official said Monday, citing radar data from the plane's last contact.
December 29, 2014 -- Updated 0850 GMT (1650 HKT)
Here are four ways the two incidents appear to differ.
December 29, 2014 -- Updated 1449 GMT (2249 HKT)
Hundreds of passengers have endured a freezing night on a ferry, more than 24 hours after a fire broke out on the vessel in the Adriatic Sea.
December 24, 2014 -- Updated 0254 GMT (1054 HKT)
A decade on from devastating 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, the Red Cross' Matthias Schmale says that the lessons learned have made us safer.
December 24, 2014 -- Updated 0024 GMT (0824 HKT)
As soon as word broke that "The Interview" will hit some theaters, celebrations erupted across social media -- including from the stars of the film.
December 23, 2014 -- Updated 1844 GMT (0244 HKT)
Did a rogue hacker -- or the U.S. government -- cut the cord for the regime's Internet?
December 24, 2014 -- Updated 0106 GMT (0906 HKT)
Monaco's newborn royals, Princess Gabriella and Crown Prince Jacques Honore Rainier, posed for their first official photos with their parents.
December 23, 2014 -- Updated 1706 GMT (0106 HKT)
What's next for the Internet? Acclaimed scientist and fatherof the World Wide Web Sir Tim Berners-Lee shares his insights.
December 23, 2014 -- Updated 0822 GMT (1622 HKT)
The United States and North Korea have long been locked in a bitter cycle of escalating and deescalating tensions. But the current cyber conflict may be especially hard to predict.
December 22, 2014 -- Updated 2100 GMT (0500 HKT)
A chilling video shows Boko Haram executing dozens of non-Muslims.
December 22, 2014 -- Updated 1134 GMT (1934 HKT)
New planes, new flight tests ... but will we get cheaper airfares?
December 22, 2014 -- Updated 1701 GMT (0101 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.