Modest start for Switzerland's first drive-in 'sex boxes'

Tue Aug 27, 2013 11:14am EDT
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By Alice Baghdjian

ZURICH (Reuters) - Greeted by a press pack rather than prostitutes, the first customer to roll up to Switzerland's sex drive-in on opening night took one lap of the facility before making a hasty exit.

The second car, a family vehicle driven by a man in sunglasses under cloudy evening skies, broke down and needed jump starting in front of a host of photographers, sniggering into their cameras.

Zurich authorities had said they expected a modest start to the country's first so-called "sex boxes", a row of drive-in wooden garages on a looping track where clients in cars can visit prostitutes, shielded from prying eyes and security cameras.

With an estimated annual turnover of around 3.5 billion Swiss francs ($3.79 billion), prostitution has been legal in Switzerland since 1942, with sex workers in Zurich required to have a special permit, health insurance and pay tax.

The number of prostitutes in the Alpine nation has risen sharply over the last decade, due to the decriminalization of procuring and passive solicitation of sex alongside agreements between Switzerland and the European Union on free movement of people.

The sex boxes, which echo similar drive-in systems in the Netherlands and Germany, are being touted as a way to get large numbers of prostitutes and their clients off Switzerland's otherwise pristine streets.


Complete with panic buttons in each shed, showers, a laundry room and on-site health workers, supporters say the system offers relative security to sex workers and privacy to their clients, while reducing the disturbance to locals.   Continued...

A car driven by a participant of a media preview travels past prostitute stands at a sex drive-in, west of Zurich August 26, 2013. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann