The history of prostitution in Switzerland dates back several centuries, and its evolution has been marked by significant social, political, and legal changes. From its beginnings to the present day, here is an overview of the history of prostitution in Switzerland.
Tolerance of Prostitution in Switzerland
During the Middle Ages, prostitution was tolerated in many Swiss cities, where specific districts were reserved for sex workers. However, over time, society’s perception of prostitution evolved, and measures of repression were put in place to control this practice seen as immoral.
The Need for Regulation of Prostitution
In the 19th century, Switzerland adopted a regulatory approach to prostitution, legalizing and regulating certain forms of sex work. Brothels were established, where prostitutes underwent regular medical checks and were often closely monitored by authorities. This approach aimed to control prostitution and protect public health.
Prostitution and the Protection of Human Rights
For much of the 20th century, prostitution was widely tolerated in Switzerland, although efforts were made to combat human trafficking and sexual exploitation. In the 1990s, the perception of prostitution began to change, and debates emerged about the need for further regulation of this industry.
In 1992, Switzerland adopted a new law on prostitution, officially recognizing sex work as a legal profession. This law allowed sex workers to enjoy the same rights and protections as other workers while introducing strict regulations to prevent human trafficking and sexual exploitation.
Since then, Switzerland has continued to adapt its legislation on prostitution to improve working conditions and the safety of sex workers. Swiss cantons have also played a significant role in establishing specific regulations for prostitution in their respective jurisdictions.
Development of the Protection of Sex Workers’ Rights
Today, Switzerland continues to have a regulated approach to prostitution, with differences in regulations and specific practices from one region to another. Organizations and associations also actively work to promote the rights and well-being of sex workers while combating the stigma and discrimination often associated with them. In Geneva, escorts are particularly protected and monitored by the canton’s vice squad, and they are also encouraged to declare their activity to benefit from social coverage (learn more).
It should be noted that prostitution remains a complex and controversial issue in Switzerland, with divergent opinions on the best approach to address this sensitive matter. Debates and reflections on prostitution continue in the country, with increasing attention given to the protection of the human rights of sex workers and the prevention of sexual exploitation.