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Switzerland

Switzerland's Sixteen-Year-Old Prostitute Problem

Op-Ed: Switzerland is the only European country where girls are allowed to work as prostitutes beginning at age 16. That’s a reasonable age of sexual consent. But for sex workers, Switzerland lives in sin until it raises the minimum age for prostitution t

Prostitution is legal in the Netherlands, but only after the age of 18 (facemepls)
Prostitution is legal in the Netherlands, but only after the age of 18 (facemepls)
Chantal Galladé*

ZURICH -- About a year ago, I drove with a Zurich police patrol through the red light district to try and get a better picture of the scene. I'm still haunted by the memories of the very young girls. They could hardly speak a word of German and they were selling their bodies. Their pimps stood not far away, waiting to take the money they earned.

Switzerland is the only European country where 16-year-olds are allowed to prostitute themselves. This is repugnant and incomprehensible. It makes Switzerland a destination for sex tourists with a penchant for children. Some Swiss "escort agencies' highlight the fact that they offer underage girls.

That's why, together with another member of parliament, Luc Barthassat, we're pushing not only for the minimum age for prostitutes to be changed to 18, but for the ratification of the Council of Europe Convention on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse. Although Switzerland is a signatory to the convention, we have yet to adjust our laws.

"Choosing" to enter the sex trade

The Swiss Federal Council is now working on this. Reactions have been many and varied – much outrage, but also some supporters of the status quo. The latter point out that the overall sexual age of consent in Switzerland is 16. It makes sense, therefore, that prostitutes can also be 16, they argue.

But there is a difference between engaging in sex and selling one's body. Sex is important for healthy physical and psychological development. Prostitution damages body and soul and hinders healthy development. It's also a job – and labor laws often make special provisions to protect young people.

Another argument is that girls choose to go into prostitution and should, therefore, be allowed to decide for themselves whether they want to start at 16 or 17. But puberty is a phase of life marked by feelings of personal insecurity and high vulnerability to outside pressures. What's more, girls may have a completely erroneous idea of what prostitution is all about, or be curious about it without being able to gauge the consequences on their own life.

On top of all that, in many cases teenagers go into prostitution because they desperately need the money. That's hardly a situation conducive to making "free choices."

Read the original story in German

Photo - facemepls

* Chantal Galladé is a teacher and Socialist member of the Swiss parliament

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Along The "New Border" Of Ukraine, Annexation Has Just Doubled The Danger

Vladimir Putin announced the annexation of Ukrainian territories in a ceremony in the Kremlin. In a village just a few kilometers away from what is now the Ukraine-Russia "border" in Putin's eyes, life continues amid constant shelling and the fear of what comes next.

Ukrainian soldiers are stationed in the village of Inhulka, near Kherson.

Stefan Schocher

INHULKA — The trail leads over a gravel road, a rickety pontoon bridge past a checkpoint. Here in the remote village of Inhulka near Kherson in southern Ukraine, soldiers sit in front of the village shop. Inside, two women run back and forth behind the counter, making coffee, selling sausages, weighing tomatoes. "Natalochka, where are the cookies," calls a dark-haired lady across the room.

But Natalochka, her colleague, is about to lose her nerve. "What kind of life is that?" she says, finally reaching up to grab the cookies from the top of a shelf. What kind of life can it be, she asks, when something is constantly exploding next to you and you don't know if you'll wake up in the morning.

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Inhulka is the center of a rural community. 1,587 inhabitants, as the village chief says, one school, one kindergarten, one doctor, two stores. Since March, nothing here is as it used to be. That was when the Russian army came to the village.

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