Switzerland's 'Sex Drive-Ins' Are An Early Flop

Switzerland's newly launched "sex drive-ins" have got off to a slow start, with sheepish customers failing to show at the so-called "sex boxes."

The controversial project, started in an attempt to reduce open street prostitution and to improve security for sex workers, also failed to lure many prostitutes – who may have been put off by the huge media presence at the launch.

The new experiment, set up in a former industrial area, is one of three spaces in the city where prostitutes can work legally and with protection.

Zurich is experimenting with the drive-in facilities

Approaching the brightly coloured compound in Zurich, there is a "strip" which men can drive down and select the woman of their choice.

The publicly funded project – which will cost 700,000 francs (£489,000) a year to run – will require the prostitutes who work there to contribute 5 Swiss francs (£3.50) each night in taxes.

The facilities — open every night from 7pm until 5am — include bathrooms, lockers, tables and a laundry and shower, with room to accommodate around 50 prostitutes.

The sex workers will be provided with a panic button and on-site social workers trained to look after them.

A gynecologist will also come in once a week to offer health checkups for the women.

Michael Herzig, from the Zurich social services department who leads the project told CNN the site became necessary after prostitution "escalated in the city."

He said: "It was done out in the open on the street and men harassed passers-by."

"It was noisy and dirty because men took the prostitutes to a side street and left used condoms on the streets. The drive-ins are more discreet and safer."

Although prostitution is legal in Switzerland, the country was plagued with a number of cases of violence, and of women being robbed.

"If we do not control it, organised crime is taking over, and the pimps are taking over," Herzig told AFP.

Although only a handful of women arrived at the launch yesterday, experts are optimistic the "sex boxes" will be a success.

Ursula Kocher, director of Flora Dora, a support network for prostitutes, said the sites will give women more safety.

"Here, they remain on-site and can deal with customers quickly," she said, speaking to Sky News.

Zurich's taxpayers approved the facility in a referendum in March, with 52% of voters in favour.