Prostitution in Switzerland

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Prostitution in Switzerland is legal and regulated; it has been legal since 1942. Trafficking, forcing people into prostitution and most forms of pimping are illegal.[1] Licensed brothels, typically with a reception and leading to several studio apartments, are available. One estimate puts the number of street sex workers in Zurich at 5000.[1]

UNAIDS estimate there to be 20000 prostitutes in the country.[2] The majority are foreigners from the Americas, Central Europe or the Far East. In recent years the number of full service sex workers has increased. Many workers operate using newspaper advertisements, mobile phones and secondary rented apartments, some accept credit cards.


In Switzerland, prostitution has been legal since 1942.[3]

In 1992, the sexual criminal law was revised, since then pimping and passive soliciting are no longer punishable.[3]

The Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons between Switzerland and the EU of 21 June 1999, which was extended to Romania and Bulgaria in 2009, resulted in an increase in the number of prostitutes in the country.[3][4]

In 2013, "sex boxes" were erected in the Altstetten district of Zurich (such as Strichplatz Depotweg) and one street where street prostitution was allowed was closed.[5] In the same year, street prostitutes in Zurich had to buy nightly permits from a vending machine installed in the area at a cost of 5 francs.[6]

In January 2014, it was publicly announced that inmates of La Pâquerette, a social therapy department for prisoners, were allowed to visit prostitutes in the Champ-Dollon detention center near Geneva, accompanied by social therapists.[7][8]

Legal situation[edit]

As well as Federal law, individual Cantons may also make additional provisions in the form of legislation or regulations.[3]

Street prostitution is illegal, except in specially designated areas in the major cities.

Article 182 of the Swiss Criminal Code is designed to combat human trafficking,[3] Article 195 limits the power pimps can have over prostitutes.[3] Swiss prostitutes are self-employed: regular employment requirements such when and where to work would make the employer likely to be in breach of article 195.[3]

It is legal to advertise for "massages" in Swiss tabloid newspapers.

Swiss sex workers are subject to taxation and social insurance contributions.[3]

Foreigners sex worker from the European Union can obtain permission to work for 90 days as a prostitute[3] if they present themselves to the city authorities, undergo a police interview, and provide proof of a health insurance plan.

Full service sex work is only legal if the seller is over 18 years of age, and it is a criminal act to pay for sex with anyone who is under 18 years old.[3] This age was raised from 16 (the country's age of sexual consent) in 2013 to bring the country in line with a Council of Europe treaty signed in 2010. The maximum sentence for those who pay for sex with 16-year-old or 17-year-old prostitutes is three years in prison. The maximum sentence for pimping anyone under 18 is ten years in prison.[9][10] (see Article 196 of the Criminal Code of Switzerland [11]).

Sex boxes[edit]

The local authorities in Zurich installed carport-like constructions called Verrichtungsboxen or 'sex boxes' to protect street based sex workers.[12][13] In 2012, voters approved the creation of "sex boxes" in Zurich to control suburban sex work. These were been described as a "success" by local authorities after a year[14] but a number of sex workers who have seen their earnings decline, disagree.[15] The measure has been criticised by several organisations as restrictive.[16]

Red-light districts[edit]

There are red-light districts in most of the major Swiss cities: Zurich (Langstrasse};[17] Bern (Lorraine);[18] Geneva (Les Pâquis);[19] Lausanne (Sevelin)[20] and Lugano (Loreto).[21]

Sex trafficking[edit]

Switzerland is primarily a destination and, to a lesser extent, a transit country for women, children, and transgender people subjected to sex trafficking. Foreign trafficking victims originate primarily from Central and Eastern Europe—particularly Romania, Hungary, and Bulgaria, with increasing numbers from Nigeria and Thailand. Victims also come from China, Brazil, Cameroon, and the Dominican Republic. The number of victims among asylum-seekers continues to grow. Female victims among asylum-seekers came from Nigeria, Eritrea, and Ethiopia, and were often forced into prostitution. Male victims among asylum-seekers came primarily from Eritrea and Afghanistan and were exploited in prostitution.[22]

The United States Department of State Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons ranks Switzerland as a 'Tier 1' country.[22]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b McDonald-Gibson, Charlotte (1 August 2011). "Drive-in sex plan to curb prostitutes in Europe's playground". The Independent. London.
  2. ^ "Sex workers: Population size estimate - Number, 2016". UNAIDS. Retrieved 21 July 2018.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Prostitution". The Swiss Coordination Unit against the Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants KSMM. Archived from the original on 6 December 2017. Retrieved 5 December 2017.
  4. ^ Jorio, Luigi (27 November 2012). "Das Recht, mit Sex Geld zu verdienen" [The right to earn money with sex]. SWI Swissinfo (in German). Retrieved 5 December 2017.
  5. ^ "Der Strichplatz von Zürich Altstetten" [Sexboxes are ready]. Blick (in German). Retrieved 5 December 2017.
  6. ^ "Permit tickets for street prostitutes in Zurich". EPA. Retrieved 5 December 2017.
  7. ^ Büchi, Christophe (31 January 2014). "egleitete Freigänge für Prostituiertenbesuch" [Accompanied free passages to prostitutes]. Neue Zurcher Zeitung (in German). Retrieved 5 December 2017.
  8. ^ "Häftlinge gingen auf Freigang zu Prostituierten" [Prisoners went for free sex with prostitutes]. Tages Anzeiger (in German). 31 January 2014. Retrieved 5 December 2017.
  9. ^ "Jugendprostitution in der Schweiz: Noch kein Verbot - SWI" (in German). Retrieved 2015-09-07.
  10. ^ "Switzerland raises legal prostitution age to 18". CBC News. Retrieved 2013-09-11.
  11. ^ "SR 311.0 Schweizerisches Strafgesetzbuch vom 21. Dezember 1937". Retrieved 2015-09-07.
  12. ^ "Switzerland to vote on installing drive-in 'sex boxes' to protect residents in red light district". Daily Mail. London. 2010-08-30. Retrieved 2011-06-13.
  13. ^ "E.U. Treaty Spurs Influx of Prostitutes to Zurich". The New York Sun. Retrieved 2012-04-11.
  14. ^ "'Sex drive-in' hailed as success after year-long experiment in Zürich". The Guardian. 26 August 2014. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  15. ^ Damien Gayle (27 August 2014). "Switzerland's drive-thru Brothels hailed a success after year-long trial". Daily Mail Online. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  16. ^ Boos, Susan (19 September 2013). "Ein Verbot schadet den Frauen" [A ban harms the women]. Woz (in German). Retrieved 5 December 2017.
  17. ^ "Window ban for Zurich's prostitutes". Retrieved 19 December 2009.
  18. ^ Hunt, Julie (8 April 2008). "Red light Bern". SWI Swissinfo. Retrieved 5 December 2017.
  19. ^ "Geneva : around the train station". Retrieved 19 December 2009.
  20. ^ "Red Light Districts - Switzerland". RLD-Europa. Retrieved 5 December 2017.
  21. ^ "Si del Cantone alla prima casa di tolleranza in Ticino". Retrieved 7 January 2011.
  22. ^ a b "Switzerland 2018 Trafficking in Persons Report". U.S. Department of State. Retrieved 1 August 2018. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.