Prostitution in Zurich


Prostitution, migration, urban territory: case study Zurich.

Prostitution is generally and traditionally defined as an exchange of sexual services for money or material remuneration. However, according to Marxist theory, it is more than that, because of the notion of power over one person’s body by another. ‘Sex work’ exerts individually a right of command over another’s person for a time: domination. Control over bodies might be the main goal of all societies and is, over women bodies, fundamental. Doubtfully, it is no overstatement to extend this projection to the urban space and the desire of control exerted by authorities over prostitution.

In terms of space, prostitution is often related, when street- practiced or in reserved districts de facto visible, to general degradation of life quality and stigmatization of areas as dirty, dangerous and depraved. The last adjective refers the presence of sex in the urban space and its forms. To comprehend how prostitution sexualizes the city and how it generates moral geographies is crucial towards an understanding of its migrations. In fact,
whether in a visible (street, district…) or invisible (periphery clubs, internet …) form, prostitution is a phenomenon with inertia as well as itinerant.

To opt for Zurich as a case study allows recognizance of migrations in the city as a concrete paradigm while today, the prostitution phenomenon is on the rise. Clients are estimated in the whole country between 200 000 and 280 000 per month, approx. 10 to 15% of the country male population between 20 and 65 years old. The lack of restrictions, combined with the country’s wealth, has pushed the number of prostitutes per capita in Zurich to one of the highest among industrialized countries. Based on police figures, Zurich has about 11 prostitutes per 1,000 people, similar to the rate of Amsterdam, known for its sex trade.

with Valentina Genini.

Articles from the research have been published in:

-Camenzind 8