Zurich, Swiss drive thru brothels have been claimed a success by Swiss social services, a year after they have been opened.
The experiment in Switzerland’s largest city began last August when the authorities opened Europe’s first municipal drive-in brothel in an old industrial area.
At the time when the drive thru brothels were opened the initiative was to slash the number of sex workers on the streets, while at the same time offering them a safer space to work.
Yet despite the success of the program, not all prostitutes have come to be happy with the new arrangements.
Some working girls have complained that their earnings have fallen whilst others have told they are too far from city centre bars and clubs (can you guess why?) from where they used to work in the city center.
Running the drive-in, which cost around 2million euros ($2.6 million; £1.6million) to set up, has also proved more costly than originally thought.
In an effort to accommodate both working girls and prospective customers, signs exist as well as understated wooden drive-in ‘sex boxes’ where customers can be served in relative privacy in the comfort of their own cars. Indeed.
Sex workers agreeing to take part in the scheme did, however, have to get a permit and pay tax to avail of the drive-in’s amenities, including a laundry, showers and cafe.
At the same time, Zurich launched a crackdown on unregulated prostitution and confined the oldest trade to just the drive-thru and two other zones, ostensibly forcing working girls to accept the drive thru brothels.
City officials have since told that they are pleased with the results, with one released statement telling: ‘The new regulation of street prostitution has attained its objectives of protecting the population and the sex workers.’
Social services said that as well as
diverting protecting prostitutes, few neighbors were bothered by the comings and goings at the drive-in in the Altstetten district.
No increase in street walkers had been noticed in the two other districts of the city where prostitution is tolerated, they said.
Residents had risen up in protest at the number of prostitutes descending after dark on the Sihlquai, a main street near the city centre, and the authorities were worried about human trafficking if the trade was left unregulated.
The number of prostitutes working in the drive-in averaged 15 a night, half the number who worked the old red-light area before the city stepped in to regulate the business.
A spokesperson for the Sex Worker Open University, a group which campaigns for the rights of sex workers in the UK, told MailOnline that the initiative, while welcome, had its problems.
‘Any initiative that truly makes selling sex safer would be welcome, but the “cleaning up” of areas where people engage in commercial sex is often in the interests of the public rather than the sex worker, who is often made more vulnerable by losing earnings and being “tucked away” out of sight,’
‘Sex worker rights advocates all over the world along with organisations such as World Health Organization, and UN Women all agree that full decriminalisation, rather than Swiss-style regulation and licensing, is the best human-rights based approach to keeping sex workers safe.’