An umbrella organisation representing men and women in the sex industry has called for sex workers to be granted the same access as the rest of the population to the justice system, health services and security.
PROCORE, which is a collective of about 20 groups in Switzerland working to defend the rights of prostitutes, made the call on Tuesday as part of a campaign to improve the status of sex workers and challenge widely-held views about them.
The organisation also urged the authorities to strengthen measures against individuals or groups forcing people to become prostitutes, or using violence against them.
At a news conference in Berne to mark its first big public information campaign, PROCORE representatives introduced a charter of principles, which describes prostitution as a reality that cannot be abolished. As a result, PROCORE said it supported a policy that recognises the work of prostitutes and reduces the risks to them.
Only such a policy, says the charter, will permit prostitutes to live and work with less discrimination, injustice and violence.
Sabine Gurtner of a Berne group working with prostitutes, says another aim of PROCORE is to give the sex workers themselves a voice.
"This is difficult," she said. "People don't want to expose themselves because of the moral prejudice."
PROCORE and its members are fighting for the human and professional rights of prostitutes, said Gurtner. "We want to give them acceptance and status in society. It's a very vulnerable profession. It is not accepted even though it is legal in Switzerland."
by Paul Sufrin