Debating the right to sell sex in Switzerland

Switzerland is one of the most liberal countries when it comes to prostitution. Yet those who offer sexual services for payment do not have ordinary workers’ rights and the profession is still considered immoral.

To imagine a society without prostitution is utopian. Those who are willing to offer their own bodies in exchange for money must be allowed to do so without being stigmatised or punished. This is the view put forward by Terre des Femmes Switzerland, an organisation that campaigns for the rights of women.

Claudine Esseiva, general-secretary of the women’s section of the centre-right Radical Party, sees things the same way. “Banning prostitution means relegating it to the shadows, beyond all control,” she told

In Switzerland, prostitution has been legal since 1942. When carried out voluntarily, it is considered a form of independent economic activity and the proceeds are subject to tax. But those who do this need to have their papers in order, hold work or residence permits, and declare their occupation to the cantonal authorities.

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Luigi Jorio