77: Street-walking

Sequins & stilettos.

Last month, the Swiss elected to build a prostitute garage in Zürich, proving that the Swiss think of things no one else does, like linking the words “garage” and “prostitute.” No man can again safely say “I’m taking the car down to the garage,” without risking life and limb.

It turns out the ‘garage’ is not in support of prostitution per se (which has been legal here since 1942), but more a neighbourhood clean-up initiative: The prostitutes are polluting a residential district with sex-trade debris, not to mention making evening dog-walks somewhat more educational than families prefer, and the locals have had enough of it. They hope the garage will migrate the problem elsewhere.

There’s no guarantee it will work. Similar sites in Germany have produced mixed results according to reports from the AFP news service. It also seems that Swiss prostitutes have fallen on hard times lately due to the Euro-zone’s open labour borders that allow in cheaper former Soviet bloc prostitutes. With profits in free-fall, prostitutes are scrounging to get by on $2,000 a month, not to mention they are taxed here whether they file an income or not.

All of which is to say this evolving economic architecture points to two possibilities. One is that prostitutes looking to protect their profits will take ever-increasing risks. The other is they will do some basic math and realize they can make more working in Swiss retail. I know which result their mothers hope for.

But this is too serious a topic for a little blog. In the meantime, on our Saturday stroll through Biel’s medieval district, Dave and I may have unwittingly walked into what looked like a streetwalker-secondhand shop, complete with sequined attire, weird garments and sky-high stilettos. We were afraid to touch anything for fear of catching something. Who would think that an historic district could have its own “wrong side of the tracks.”


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