WOMEN

Officials Declare Drive-In Brothel A Success For Sex Worker Safety

08/26/2014 06:04 pm ET | Updated Aug 26, 2014
FABRICE COFFRINI via Getty Images

It's been a year since Zurich, Switzerland, installed drive-in "sex-boxes" to improve safety for sex workers, and now authorities are hailing the program as a success.

Attracted by the prospect of on-site social workers and security (and no pimps), prostitutes agreed to relocate from a popular strip in downtown Zurich to the wooden, car-sized boxes just outside the city. Onsite amenities include a panic button in each "box," laundry, showers and a cafe, the Agence France-Presse reports.

On average, 15 prostitutes can be found working nightly at the publicly funded sex boxes, where clients -- who must be alone -- drive in, cruise the facility and select a sex worker, who then gets in the car and has the client park in one of the monitored boxes.

To work inside the all-night drive-in, prostitutes must pay a small tax and stop soliciting on the streets, according to The Associated Press.

Prostitution has been legal in Switzerland since 1942, but sex work was an often dangerous trade, as protection was scant.

"They get into cars with men they don't know, and they don't know where they will be taken," Ursula Kocher, who runs a Zurich advice center for sex workers, told the BBC last year. "They get driven out of the city, into a forest, away from anywhere."

A year since the new facilities were put in place, authorities can confidently say the boxes work, despite some complaining of lower earnings.

"The new regulation of street prostitution has attained its objectives of protecting the population and the sex workers," the city said in a statement, per the AFP.

"The first year of the service has been positive," Zurich social services told AFP.

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