Once popular in the 1950s for restaurants and movie theaters, drive-ins are relatively few nowadays. However, who would have thought that this concept has gained some ground when it comes to prostitution.
The so-called ‘sex-huts’, ‘performance boxes’, or ‘prostitution boxes’ made their debut in the cities of Dortmund and Cologne, Germany, in 2001. In 2011 another set of boxes were installed in Bonn, Germany. These boxes had the intention of increasing safety for prostitutes by curtailing physical violence that may occur during an encounter with a client, as on-site medical and social services are present to aide prostitutes. However, Eastern European criminal gangs infiltrated the operation of the boxes and forced their closure in Dortmund and Cologne in 2007.
Safety of prostitutes was not the only reason for the creation of these boxes. The social impact prostitution has in city neighbourhoods also led to their establishment. The appeal of prostitution boxes to city residents was that they were to be built away from city centers and residential neighbourhoods. Such is the case for Zurich, Switzerland, the most recent European city to experiment with these boxes. In Zurich, the boxes have been constructed away from the city center in an effort to reduce street prostitution, protect prostitutes, and reduce organized crime.
Should we not be ‘thinking outside the box’ when trying to help those who are sexually exploited and victims of sexual violence? How does isolating these individuals who have fallen victim to sexual oppression to remote areas and giving them boxes to ‘work’ out of preserve their dignity? The societal excuses of we will never get rid of prostitution so just have the government regulate it or let them do what they want so long as it is between consenting adults and has no effect on my life, does not give a sustainable solution to empowering sexually exploited individuals in believing that they can be free from their oppressive environment.
Therefore, providing viable recovery, housing and educational programs for those who want to break free from the cycle of sexual oppression, as well as creating educational and awareness initiatives for all ages to come to an understanding of what equality is, will enable all to help empower those who are powerless against their circumstance of sexual exploitation and oppression.