A New King of Sex Drive

Switzerland's plan to keep prostitutes safe.

THE IDEA OF going on a date to a drive-in may sound quaint, yet it's anything but in the Swiss city of Zurich. Authorities there recently opened a designated area for prostitution, featuring drive-in garages for sex workers to hook up with clients. Each garage, known as a "sex box," has a panic button and condom disposal bin, and there are showers, a kitchen, and security guards on-site. There are strict rules, too: no more than one client to a car, no cameras, no bicyclists, and no one under 18.

Prostitution is legal in Switzerland, and the boxes are a bold way to allow the deed to go down in a safe, controlled environment. (The city has since restricted street soliciting.) "We believe the boxes are in the interests of both prostitutes and a harmonious city life," says Thomas Meier, chief spokesperson for Zurich's Department of Social Services, which oversees the $2.6 million project. The question of how to deal with prostitution is a tricky one everywhere, but at least Swiss officials are thinking outside—as well as inside—the box.