Drive-in 'sex boxes' for prostitution, built by taxpayers, are a wild success in Switzerland

Drive-in movies may be a thing of the past, but in Zurich, drive-ins are alive and well. Instead of seeing a movie, patrons in Switzerland — where prostitution has been legal since the 1940s — can receive the services of sex workers.

In 2012, 52 percent of Zurich citizens voted in favor of the government setting aside $2 million to build drive-in structures, which are referred to as “sex boxes,” in a discreet area. To operate the facilities each year, $800,000 is set aside for security and on-site social services. Previously, sex workers were mostly located at the city’s riverfront area, but residents complained about the noise and traffic jams.

A prostitute faces “sex boxes” in Zurich on the opening day of Switzerland’s first sex drive-in, Aug. 26, 2013. (Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images)

The sex boxes opened in 2013. Five years later, city officials have deemed the project a wild success.

These government-sanctioned areas are effective in preventing violence against sex workers and human trafficking, Nadeen Schuster, Zurich’s spokesperson, told USA Today. With the government’s involvement in the industry, sex workers are more protected and healthier overall. Prostitutes, who must register with public health authorities and submit to regular health checks, pay taxes on their work and contribute to social insurance.

Since they were introduced, the sex boxes have seen improvements. In 2014, other structures were added that featured plank beds, as some customers did not want to stay in their cars. Motorbikes and bicycles are allowed, “to meet the needs of the population,” according to authorities, but foot traffic is not. Walk-ins are encouraged to go to another city-sanctioned prostitution area.

The working women set the price with their customers, and once there is an agreement, they drive to one of the free boxes. There are no security cameras inside, but there is an alarm button, which will alert security if they need help. According to USA Today’s reporter, so far there have been no serious incidents.

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