Com­plete with panic but­tons and emer­gency ex­its, ‘sex boxes’ are Zürich’s lat­est ef­fort to con­trol pros­ti­tu­tion

Marie Claire (South Africa) - - BULLETIN -

Among the many dilem­mas about sex is an en­tirely prac­ti­cal one: where to have it? The bed­room pref­er­ence isn’t much of an op­tion when it comes to sex work­ers who so­licit from the street, and have to make do with be­ing driven to dodgy lo­cales to com­plete the trans­ac­tion. Ac­knowl­edg­ing this prob­lem, of­fi­cials in Zürich (where pros­ti­tu­tion is le­gal) have re­cently un­veiled the city’s first ‘sex boxes’, es­pe­cially in­tended for sex work­ers and their clients. The des­ig­nated area, cor­doned off by a fence, in­cludes a ring road on which mo­torists can drive, paus­ing to ne­go­ti­ate with sex work­ers; they then head over to park in one of the ‘sex boxes’, flanked on both sides with wooden cladding for pri­vacy, and fit­ted with panic but­tons for safety. Con­doms and bath­room fa­cil­i­ties are also avail­able.

The boxes have been met with mixed re­ac­tions by the city’s in­hab­i­tants: some ob­ject to us­ing tax­pay­ers’ money to sub­si­dize pros­ti­tu­tion, while oth­ers think the fa­cil­i­ties un­fairly re­strict sex work­ers’ trade (since the in­cep­tion of the boxes, solic­it­ing sex out­side of des­ig­nated ar­eas can come with a fine of up to 450 Swiss francs [about R5 000]). City of­fi­cials ar­gue that the reg­u­lated area will help to pre­vent the crim­i­nal el­e­ment that is of­ten par­a­sitic on the world’s old­est pro­fes­sion. ‘Pros­ti­tu­tion is a busi­ness ba­si­cally. We can­not pro­hibit it, so we want to con­trol it in favour of the sex work­ers and the pop­u­la­tion,’ said Michael Herzig, di­rec­tor of so­cial ser­vices for sex work­ers in Zürich. ‘If we do not con­trol it, or­ga­nized crime is tak­ing over, and the pimps are tak­ing over.’

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