They look like shelters for hikers in a national park, but these wooden sheds in Switzerland have a rather less innocent purpose – they provide a discreet location for men to have sex with prostitutes. [source]
The drive-in “sex boxes” as they are being called, will be officially opened on August 26, as part of a drive by authorities in Zurich to regulate prostitution, combat pimping and improve security for sex workers.
The nine garage-style structures, located in a former industrial zone in the west of the city, have been organised with typically Swiss precision.
Drivers will have to follow a clearly marked route along which up to 40 prostitutes will be stationed.
Once they have chosen one of the women and negotiated a fee, they will drive into one of the wooden sheds, which are hung with posters advocating the use of condoms and warning of the risk of Aids.
The sex boxes are equipped with alarms which the prostitutes can activate if they feel in danger from a client.
The site is only open to drivers of cars – pedestrians and men on motorbikes are not allowed – and will operate from early evening until 5am each day.
The sex boxes are one of several measures intended to reduce the large numbers of prostitutes plying their trade in residential areas and in the city centre, including a ban on soliciting along the Sihlquai river embankment.
Men who solicit street workers outside three new approved zones, including the cluster of sex boxes, will face fines of up to 450 francs (£310).
“We want to regulate prostitution because until now it was the law of the jungle,” said Michael Herzig, from Zurich’s social welfare department, when the initiative was announced.
“It was the pimps who decided the prices, for instance. 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.”
The £1.4 million project was approved by voters in Zurich last year in a referendum.
While prostitution is legal in Switzerland, sex workers have to pay a tax of five Swiss francs (£3.50) each night that they work.
Zurich authorities said the number of prostitutes working in the city had increased markedly in recent years, with many of them coming from Eastern Europe, particularly Hungary.