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All political parties agree that something needs to be done about prostitution in Zurich. Recent years have seen an explosion in the number of women working the street, and residents in some districts are fed up with the noise and passing trade.
For local councillor Matthias Probst, who represents the Green Party in Altstetten, plans to build ten drive-in sex boxes in his district represents a pragmatic solution.
“We really need to act,” he says, “to improve the protection of the prostitutes and to try and bring some order to a fairly disorganised situation. A location was chosen that’s not in the middle of a residential district. The sex boxes aren’t in the middle of Altstetten. They are on a main road with a few business around. And it’s not just about improving the protection of sex workers. This offers a chance to reduce criminality and act more decisively against the pimps.”
The boxes are made from simple metal fencing and are wide enough for those seeking the services of a prostitute to park their car. Residents fear their district is being made a dumping ground.
Margrit Haller is a local councillor representing the Swiss People’s Party in Altstetten:
“We object to paying out 2.4 million francs in taxes for the boxes,” she says. “Secondly, we are not happy about the boxes being set up in Altstetten because it is a community which is developing with new flats being built. For me it is also an ethical problem. The idea that women will be better protected and monitored is good but I don’t really see it as an alternative that women either work the streets or work in the boxes. For me it would be much better if women didn’t have to go on the game at all.”
Representatives of most political parties are likely to vote in favour of the measures. Their argument: We can’t get rid of prostitution so we have to learn how to control it.
If all goes according to the city government’s timetable, the sex boxes could be operating from the spring.