Anyone who has sex with a prostitute under the age of 18 could face legal penalties in the future.
This is the aim of the Swiss cabinet, which on Wednesday launched the consultation period on the issue. Justice Minister Simonetta Sommaruga said it was a question of strengthening the protection of minors, which she said is “incredibly important”.
Currently the age of legal consent in Switzerland is 16. There are no legal restrictions on working as a prostitute or using the services of a prostitute in Switzerland from the age of 16.
While canton Geneva and now also Zurich city authorities forbid prostitution under 18 by restricting work permits, other cities and cantons are waiting for the legal age to be increased at the federal level.
Switzerland signed a Council of Europe convention last summer that requires signatories to implement such a ban. The Council of Europe Convention on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse establishes links between demand and supply of child prostitutes by requiring criminal sanctions for both the “recruiters” and the “users”.
In Switzerland pimping is illegal and uncommon: most prostitutes operate independently from small studios via mobile phones.
swissinfo.ch and agencies