New street signs showing a busty woman waiting beside a lamp post are being painted on the pavements of Basel, Switzerland, to show sex workers the zone where they can legally ply their trade.
The signs are aimed at keeping sex workers inside the tolerance zone
in the city's Kleinbasel district. About 50 work outdoors in the area designated as legal for street soliciting.
Basel's security and justice department said in a statement:
There is a high turnover of
street workers in that part of the city. But many are from Eastern Europe, which can make it difficult to convey the rules they must obey. So we hope these signs will make it very clear where they can and can not tout for business.
The world's first drive-thru brothels has been deemed a success by Swiss social services, a year after being created.
The drive-in sex boxes were installed in Zurich last year, offering sex workers a safer place to provide their services rather
than the street. Set up on the edge of the city, the facility provides bathrooms, laundry and even has its own security.
The creation cost the government 2million Euros to build and has risen in popularity over the last 12 months. Around 30 to 40
women ply their trade there each night.
Zurich authorities believe the idea has been extremely positive and want prostitution, which has been legal in Switzerland since 1942, to continue running safely. A statement from social services read:
The new regulation of street prostitution has attained its objectives of protecting the population and the sex workers. The first year of the service has been positive.
Switzerland's first sex drive-in, which opened two months ago in a bid to take prostitution off Zurich's streets, has been a success, the city said following an initial evaluation. Michael Herzig, director of social services for sex workers in the city,
After two months I can say that this guarded prostitution site is working. We did not have any major problems, such as with pimps, violence or the neighbourhood
He said he was
surprised things had gone so smoothly. He noted that an average of 14 sex workers had used the site each day since it opened compared to about 30 who had been working in the previous red-light street.
The drive-in has a track where the sex workers
can parade and negotiate a price, and nine so-called sex boxes where they and their clients can park and conclude the transaction. Machines resembling parking metres have been installed, and the prostitutes are required to contribute 5.0 Swiss
francs (4 euros) each night in taxes to help Zurich cover the cost of running the place.
Security guards check there is only one man in each car coming in and are there to respond to alarm buttons in each sex bo x. There are on-site doctors
and social workers.
The Swiss parliament has voted to raise the legal prostitution age from 16 to 18 bringing Swiss law into line with European neighbours.
The lower house of parliament voted to change the Swiss penal code to make it illegal to pay for sex with a minor,
following suit after the upper house adopted the bill.
With the law change, sex workers between the ages of 16 and 18 will not face penalties, but clients who pay for sex with minors will face up to three years behind bars. Anyone encouraging
prostitution by minors, including pimps, and people running brothels or escort services, will face up to 10 years in prison.
The law change also raises the legal age to participate in pornography, making it a crime punishable by up to five years
in jail to produce, import, promote, screen or possess pornography featuring minors.
Zurich council has approved a plan to build open drive-in sex boxes, which will, it hopes, provide a discreet location for prostitutes and their customers to conduct business when they open in August next year.
Located in an industrial area of the
city, the row of garage-like boxes will have roofs and walls for privacy, and easy access for cars. The council estimates that around 30 prostitutes will meet clients at the site of the boxes, and use the drive-in slots on a first-come-first-served
Michael Herzig, from Zurich's social welfare department, told Swiss Radio:
The big difference is that until now prostitution has been in the public space. Now we are going to change this, move it from the
street to a private space in an old industrial area, which belongs to the city. This gives us the possibility to define the rules of prostitution in this area.
The prostitutes who use the boxes will also have to take out medical
insurance and buy a £ 26 licence in order to work legally. They will also have to feed five Swiss francs, about £ 3.30, into a roadside ticket machine each night when they clock on.
The opening of the sex boxes will coincide with a major reform of prostitution laws in the city. Prostitution will be outlawed in certain areas of Zurich.
East Java Governor Soekarwo last week announced that his administration planned to close down all the 47 red-light districts spread across the province's 33 regencies and municipalities by next year, or before the end of his term in 2014 at the latest.
He also said an unlimited budget would be allocated to realize the plan.
The sooner they are all closed down the better. Morality programs need to be prioritized, he said.
Soekarwo said his administration did not tolerate immoral
acts, thus relocation would not be an option in dealing with prostitution. All sex workers would be sent home after being given a dose of religion and appropriate life-skills training, such as how to sew rice or how to work in a factory. The
provincial administration will give them Rp 3 million [US$330] each to start a new life in their respective home villages, he said.
The East Java branch of the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), which had for the last few years been running a
program called the Association of Preachers for Red-Light Districts will also contribute to life-skills training.
Chairman of the association, Abdussomad Buchori, said of the sex workers sent packing: We give them religious instruction while
the administration provides them with skills and funding for a new life .
Provincial councillor Kuswiyanto welcomed the administration's plan but warned that the strategy used must be clearly thought through. We need to talk to all the
stakeholders, especially those in the commercial-sex business, he said.
The Swiss People's Party (SVP) has gathered enough signatures to call a cantonal referendum in Zurich on the planned development of a new red-light district in Alstetten, on the outskirts of the city.
By gathering more than the 2,000 signatures
needed to call a vote, the SVP hopes to block what it sees as an immoral use of public funds.
Plans to open the new district and end prostitution in the Sihlquai district, behind the main railway station, were scheduled for the spring of 2012.
Police and social services had opposed the idea of a referendum, arguing that it would delay the move out of Sihlquai.
So-called performance stalls , are set to be kitted out with parking spaces and alarm buttons.
The head of
Zurich's social affairs department, socialist councillor Martin Waser said he is convinced that citizens will vote clearly in favour of the project because the problems in Sihlquai are well known . The situation cannot continue, neither
for the sake of the prostitutes nor those living in the area.
2.4 million franc ($2.8m) was raised to finance the scheme via a loan. Most parties voted in favour of the loan, but the project met with resistance from the Swiss People's Party
(SVP), the Evangelical People's Party (EVP) and the Swiss Democrats (SD).
The city council must now decide when the referendum will take place. The earliest possible date will be March 11th 2012.