The city of Zurich is experimenting with publicly funded “sex boxes,” which open today in an attempt to both curb the city’s problems with prostitution as a public nuisance and also make the profession safer for female sex workers. The open-door boxes, built in a former industrial area near a major highway, will be available to drive-in customers, who will be able to negotiate with the several dozen sex workers expected to conduct business in the new facilities.
The designated facilities are part of a $2.6 million project Zurich voters approved last year to relocate sex traffic away from the city’s downtown, where prostitution is permitted in certain areas. The new facilities include bathrooms, lockers, small tables, a laundry, and a shower. Each box is equipped with a panic button for sex workers to press in case of emergency situations.
“We cannot prohibit it, so we want to control it in favor of the sex workers and the population,” says Michael Herzig, director of social services for sex workers in Zurich, of the gated facility, which offers on-premises social workers and security staff.