Sex Boxes Unveiled in Switzerland: Problem Or Solution?

On Monday, Switzerland unveiled a controversial sex drive-thru in an effort to further monitor the country's legal sex trade.

The so called "sex boxes" aim to create a win-win situation. Located outside the center of the city, the boxes are meant to hide the legal sex trade from everyday life, while creating a safe space for the sex worker and the customer.

Fifty-two percent of Zurich voted for the two million dollar project, which will create nine drive-in structures that will cost $700,000 per-year to operate.

The drive-in will open everyday at 7:00 PM and shut downs at 5:00 AM. Drivers will be met by 40 sex workers after following signs on the road, and can then negotiate the service and price with a sex worker. After they settle their business, they drive to a box and proceed with the transaction. Security guards and social workers are on site, and each box is equipped with an alarm button in case of emergency.

Switzerland has 14,000 “official” sex workers, not counting those who work off the grid. Zurich has one of the highest ratios of sex workers among industrialized countries, with roughly 11 sex workers per 1,000 people. Those in favor of regulation say it makes perfect sense to regulate sex work and treat it like any other job in Switzerland. It can also improve the lives of many women.

The Swiss believe the legalization of sex work helps prevents sexual exploitation, human trafficking, and other criminal activities. Sex workers "are required to register with local authorities, pay taxes, have medical insurance, and undergo regular health checkups."

While it does provide a more ideal work environment and safety for sex workers, the idea of relegating women from the streets to literal boxes does seem somewhat problematic. And of course, Switzerland's innovative take on the sex trade elicits the age old question of whether selling sex should be considered work or exploitation — one of the more complicated social questions of our time.

(Image: Associated Press)