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Immigration law End of an era for strip clubs

Since the start of 2016, women from non-European Union countries can no longer obtain special resident permits to work in Swiss strip clubs. A former cabaret owner speaks out. (SRF/

For the past 20 years a special version of the short-term “L” work permit was issued exclusively to cabaret and exotic dancers from countries not in the EU or the European Free Trade association (EFTA).

The special status for cabaret dancers was introduced in 1995 and it allowed women from countries that do not have a free labour accord with Switzerland to work as dancers in cabaret clubs for up to eight months within a 12-month period. 

Based on various police investigations, the State Secretariat for Migration SEM concluded in 2010 that the special status did not fulfil the requirements for which it was introduced, namely protecting women from exploitation and human trafficking. 

On the other hand, people like former cabaret owner Brigitte Honauer, fear that the lifting of the special status will result in women working illegally.

Work permits for cabaret dancers from non-EU/EFTA were issued only until the end of August 2015. The transition period was to allow venues that employed cabaret and exotic dancers to prepare for the new legislation.

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