Come August 26, and the Altstetten area of Zurich would probably witness the opening of the first ever government sponsored structures for the city’s sex workers to work undisturbed. The decision to put up these so called ‘sex boxes’ came after nearly 52 percent of the voting population in Zurich urged the municipal authorities to use $2 million in tax money to provide a safe environment for prostitutes to practice their trade.
A total of nine drive in sex boxes aka premises would be built by the government for the sex workers in the city. This move by the government has got the praise and approval of several sex workers as well as their clients in the city who feel that they can now work peacefully without being disturbed by locals and authorities.
The facility being put up in a remote area in Altstetten (away from residential areas) has also earned the praise of several residents in the nearby Sihlaquai neighborhood who now feel that there would be less issues in the form of sex workers lining the streets after dark and clients cruising in the streets, and the traffic jams and noise pollution experienced by the same.
The boxes come with operational and maintenance costs of $700,000 per year. And while some of the political parties in Zurich are not happy at these sex boxes (they feel that since prostitution happens to be a private matter that does not warrant the use of public funds), those who support the government’s decision claim that the money is being put to good use; to protect sex workers as well as the general public.
The concept of these sex boxes actually came into being after Zurich officials happened to visit other German towns like Essen, Cologne and Dortmund which had successfully carried out similar projects (and are still running them). Zurich decided to take a different approach to its sex boxes though. Instead of leaving these premises as standalone facilities, the officials have decided to control it by appointing security personnel, social workers and counselors in a bid to offer adequate protection to sex workers and improve their working conditions. The government believes that this would be a small step in legalizing these places and their practices, which in turn would prevent issues like sexual exploitation and human trafficking.
Zurich’s drive in sex boxes would be large enough to accommodate one vehicle each. The site will open at 7.00 p.m. and would be open till 5.00 a.m. the next morning. Painted arrows on the road will direct clients to almost 40 prostitutes stationed near the site. After the initial price negotiation, the clients and sex workers can drive to any one of these 9 boxes which would be provided on a first come first serve basis.
The boxes would also contain bathrooms and would have colored lights along with posters that promote safe sex. And though the government has decided not to use any cameras in the boxes, an alarm would be fitted in each box in case of trouble or emergency. The boxes themselves would be accessible only to clients with cars. Those without cars would have to do with another sex workers hub that is located downtown.