The UK's Telegraph reports that Zurich officials are trying a new method to manage prostitution and cut out the black market pimps who handle hookers: "sex boxes" that are to be utilized by johns and their dates are being installed, and will open on August 26.
When the initiative was first announced, spokesman Michael Herzig of Zurich's social welfare department said that "We want to regulate prostitution because until now it was the law of the jungle." The project cost a whopping 1.4 million euros, and voters in Zurich approved the plan last year.
The drive-in structures, which will be built in a former industrial zone on the west side of the city, will be clean and feature posters that encourage men to wear condoms as well as to take precaution against dangerous diseases like HIV. If a prostitute feels endangered, panic buttons exist for just that reason.
The idea is to have automobile owners (who usually pick up prostitutes on the side of the road for prices set by a pimp) frequent other areas to look for working girls, as many simply work the streets in residential districts or shopping centers. With the introduction of the sex box, Zurich officials are hoping that prostitutes will relocate their business and solicit near the zones. Men who are caught soliciting outside the designated areas will be fined up to 450 francs.
The law in Switzerland on prostitution is clear: selling sex is legal as long as you pay the nightly tax, but the prices of the trade are not explicitly covered by the law. Black market prostitutes often find themselves underpaid and risking their lives without the protection of the pimp, who determines how much sex with a prostitute will cost and often takes most of the money.
"It was the pimps who decided the prices," Herzig said of the problem. "We are trying to reach a situation which is better for the prostitutes themselves, for their health and security and also for people who live in Zurich."