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Carly, 32, is an Italian cross-border commuter. In order to work freely five days a week she drives 6. Carly is a sex worker. Italians are lewd because prostitution in our country is still a taboo". And in Ticino there are no pimps: We need the money, we've got a three-year-old daughter.
We'd like to buy a house in Switzerland and settle here one day. Carly works six hours a day — from noon to 6pm — and shares an apartment with another Italian commuter colleague. At the end of her shift, she drives back to her family in Como. When she's away for holidays she rents her room to other co-workers from Milan. First, differently from Italy, prostitution is regulated. All you need to do is register at the police office, tell them you'll be prostituting yourself and get an official work permit as a self-employed worker.
The great thing about Ticino, explains Carly, is this special police section, called Teseu, which is in charge of controlling the sex industry by cracking down on abuses and violences. They know where I live. Carly has a registered VAT and regularly declares her income: I'll have a pension one day when I decide to retire. Plus, all expenses related to my job are deductible: Getting the business running in Ticino is also pretty easy.
Advertisement can be quite expensive but it's certainly worth it: Carly settled with the latter option and currently pays 70 francs per day. Ticino has always been considered a haven of the Swiss sex industry. Dozens of Italian sex workers, both women and men — regularly commute to Ticino especially on Saturday nights. Even university students who can't afford to continue with their studies are lured by the profits of the Swiss red light scene.
And it's not just prostitutes. Sex seekers also commute to the Swiss border towns of Lugano, Cadenazzo and Bellinzona. Carly's clients are all Italian, she says, mainly businessmen from Milan and Varese. There are estimated to be roughly registered sex workers in Ticino out of a total population of , residents.