Swiss law on prostitution

Friday, 26 February 2021

The regulations on prostitution in Europe are very varied. It is enough to cross a border to find laws very different from those in force in the country that is left behind. For example: what happens if we cross the border between France and Switzerland? In France, a law on prostitution of a marked abolitionist nature was passed a few years ago. Said law is based on the punishment of prostitution consumers. In other words, the French law on prostitution punishes clients of prostitution with financial fines. But ... what about Swiss law? How does Switzerland deal with prostitution legislatively? Do you also choose, like your neighboring country, the coercive route? Does it also follow a Nordic-inspired abolitionist model?

The answer to the previous question is no. To begin with, the provision of sexual services is legal in Switzerland. According to Swiss law on prostitution, sex work is a lucrative activity tolerated on the basis of the principle of economic freedom of the people.

According to Swiss law on prostitution, two persons who are of legal age can freely exchange the provision of a sexual service in exchange for money as long as the person providing the sexual service does so freely and independently, without suffering any type of pressure or obligation from a third person.

As a federally structured country, Switzerland allows each of the cantons that make up the nation to pass its own legislation on sex work. Let's see, for example, how prostitution is regulated in what is probably the most important canton in Switzerland: the canton of Geneva.

Swiss law on prostitution

Laws on prostitution in Geneva

Geneva, as a Swiss canton, has its own prostitution law and regulations. Both establish the legal framework both for the exercise of sex work and for the exploitation of escort agencies and erotic salons.

The cantonal law on prostitution of Geneva also establishes that any person who wishes to engage in sex work in the canton of Geneva must compulsorily register with the police service of the Swiss Brigade Against Trafficking and Illicit Prostitution (BTPI). The law also establishes that anyone wishing to engage in prostitution in Geneva must undergo mandatory awareness training.

To register and thus obtain the card that entitles you to provide sexual services in exchange for money, you must appear in person at the police service indicated above. To register it is necessary to have Swiss nationality or, failing that, a work permit.

Whoever has registered in the BTPI registry may notify a temporary or permanent cessation of activity whenever they wish. The Swiss regulation on prostitution in Geneva establishes that for this it is enough to send an instance with a copy of the identity document and the date of the definitive end of the activity. In this case, it can also be requested that the record of the prostitution report be removed from the BTPI.

Places of prostitution in Geneva

As in all places, there are also different places in Geneva where sex work is carried out. Those places are:

  • The street : There are areas of the city traditionally associated with street prostitution such as the Pâquis neighborhood or the Boulevard Helvétique. The street exercise of prostitution can be practiced anywhere, except in some very limited areas such as the surroundings of schools, cemeteries, hospitals or places of worship, parks, playgrounds, transport stops, parking lots or public bathrooms. Street prostitution is also prohibited in the Tranchées neighborhood. The Geneva regulations on prostitution allow clients to be attracted on the street but not to practice sexual intercourse in the public sphere.
  • Escort agencies ; Their managers must deliver a detailed receipt of all amounts received.
  • Erotic massage salons : Their managers must act as those responsible for the escort agencies and keep a detailed record of the amounts received in order to be able to issue the corresponding receipt.
  • Private apartments : The associations for the defense of sex workers recommend to them to make a contract and request a receipt of all rents paid.
  • Departures to hotels, at home or to rooms by the hour.

Freelance sex workers advertise in the newspapers and especially on the internet.

Swiss police services can carry out checks whenever they want and they can be carried out on the street, in agencies, in apartments or in salons. The legislation also allows the police to carry out controls in the rooms of the halls and verify the identity of the people who are in them.

Prostitutes in Switzerland

Offenses on prostitution

Beyond the cantonal laws on prostitution in Switzerland in general and the laws of Geneva in particular, there are federal laws that affect all cantons equally and that indicate which prostitution offenses are criminalized in the country.

Among the offenses that can be criminalized in the area of prostitution in Switzerland is incitement to prostitution. The laws on prostitution in Switzerland state that a maximum of imprisonment or a financial fine will be punished who:

  • Lead a minor into the exercise of prostitution or favor it in order to obtain a financial benefit.
  • Lead a person into prostitution with the aim of making a profit from prostitution or benefiting from a dependency relationship.
  • Attempt against the freedom of action of a person who prostitutes himself, monitoring him in his activities or imposing any type of conditions such as place, time or frequency to do so.
  • Keep a person in prostitution.

At the same time, the Swiss federal law on prostitution establishes that whoever violates those cantonal provisions that regulate the places, hours and ways of exercising prostitution would be illegally engaged in prostitution. These people would be punished by a fine.

Trafficking in human beings in the Swiss law on prostitution

Swiss law makes a perfect distinction between prostitution carried out freely and prostitution carried out under duress. Thus, it directly penalizes human trafficking with imprisonment or a financial fine.

Under Swiss law, a person who, as an offeror, intermediary or buyer, engages in trafficking in a human being for the purpose of sexual exploitation, exploitation of their work or for extraction, would be considered guilty of a trafficking offense. of an organ.

The penalty established by law is a custodial sentence of at least one year when the victim of trafficking is a minor or if the perpetrator is regularly engaged in trafficking in human beings. The deprivation of liberty does not imply that there is no penalty of fine, since it always exists.

Swiss law on the remunerated provision of sexual services also provides that a person of Swiss nationality who commits the trafficking offense abroad is punished.

Host clubs in Switzerland