World

Switzerland Wraps Up Stripper Visa Program

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Rachel Stoltzfoos Staff Reporter

Switzerland wrapped up a special visa program for strippers Tuesday, issuing the last of its work permits to foreign strippers looking for work in the country before the program expires in the new year.

Authorities started issuing the special “L permits” to foreign strippers in 1995 with the aim of protecting them from sex traffickers by giving them legal work in wealthy Switzerland, reported Agence France-Presse. More than 10,000 women from outside the European Union have received the permit since 2005, allowing them to move to Switzerland and find legal work as strippers or cabaret dancers.

The immigration office announced Tuesday authorities have issued the last of the 700 permits handed out in 2015. Dancers from Russia, the Dominican Republic and Thailand were the top recipients of the visas, which proponents argued gave them a safer way to send money home to their families.

Switzerland decided to terminate the program as of Jan. 1, after an investigation by Swiss authorities in 2014 revealed some of the permit holders were subjected to forced prostitution when they arrived by middlemen who helped them obtain the visa and then demanded payment.

A government brochure explaining the ins and outs of the visa for cabaret dancers stipulates visa holders can only work as cabaret dancers and cannot stay for more than eight months at a time.

“Your activity as a dancer consists of removing some or all of your clothes on stage to musical accompaniment and of repeating this performance several times an evening,” the brochure explains. “Encouraging guests to consume and prostitution are not part of your job.”

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