Meeting the City Council Richard Wolff

image1One of the issues that we as American students found as really different was the fact that people can occupy a house that is not theirs. The government does not deprive them of things like water or electricity. Although this may seem to be inappropriate, it also provides us with a different perspective where the government and the people of Switzerland promote giving people a place to stay if a building is empty. In the United States, there is a big issue with people being homeless and there are also tons of buildings that are not occupied. However, the American society does not promote unwanted people occupying buildings especially without the permission of the owners. It is called trespassing and people who trespass get exposed to being shot or being reported to the police. There are some government programs that provide some type of housing or assistance to homeless people. There are also some non-governmental organizations that also help support people who are homeless. The issue is that irrespective of the assistance, there are still several people who are homeless.

Another issue we talked about is the fact that prostitution has been legal in Switzerland for several years. The police, the health care institution and the system provides the necessary assistance needed for sex workers to help them in the best possible way. Although we as Americans may think that the idea may be different, speaking to some of the Swiss students made me understand this issue from a different perspective. The students made me understand that even if the system prohibits prostitution, people will still find a way to do it. So the argument is that, if people are going to do it anyway, why not provide the adequate support needed to protect these lives and the make their life expectancy as high as possible. Looking at the issue from this perspective makes me understand why the system needed to make prostitution legal or provide some oversight over the issue. The question however, would be “do we as Americans think we should also make prostitution legal since there are a plethora of people who do it with no support from the system thereby increasing the risk and rate of sexually transmitted diseases among Americans?” As a future physician and public health advocate, this policy used in Switzerland maybe something we need to think about because of the ever growing incidence of sexually transmitted diseases in the United States. It is better that we address the issue of prostitution in the best possible by providing sex education, condoms and other forms of contraceptive, social workers to help people who want to quit prostitution and security to these sex workers rather than making policies that put people in prison without addressing the reason behind the behavior.

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4 Comments

  1. America’s head-in-the-sand attitude toward harm reduction is baffling to me. People absolutely still prostitute in the US and I think ignoring it only makes the problem worse. Regulation would bring in tax money and make things safer for the workers and the patrons.
    The role of, and attitude toward the police is especially interesting in the light of the recent events in the US. It surprised me to hear that there are people with an anti-establishment sort of approach here. Of course it is nothing like our current state of affairs.

  2. Kristy Downing

    9. July 2016 at 10:57

    This day was interesting to me, since I’d like to be working somewhere in the court system. I found their gun laws to be shocking. It’s fairly easy to own a gun and ammunition in America, but not here in Switzerland. It’s shocking because it’s actually working for them. They don’t have the violence or shootings like in USA. It makes me think about how our country would be if we implement these same laws.

  3. Jessica Zavela

    17. July 2016 at 20:46

    I really enjoyed meeting Richard Wolff. I learned a lot from the conversation he had with us. It was mind boggling that Zurich does not have a big issue with sexual violence, where this is major issue in the US. I thought it was interesting that the police in Switzerland have an issue with racial profiling because in the US it is out of hand. It was awesome to discuss the issues that the US is facing and his views on it. His department is combating racial profiling by weeding out unfit policemen and extending training to include non-police officials in the education of police enforcement.

  4. Michelle Columbe

    18. July 2016 at 16:48

    This was one of my favorite agencies that we visited. Especially considering the amount of issues that we are currently having in the states. We learned about the occupied houses in Zurich, and all I could think about was how could we do something like this in the states. We have so many unused houses in Dayton alone, if only the banks were not the ones in control. It was also interesting to find out about the racial profiling issue that Switzerland is going through. The U.S. is currently facing this issue in the most violent ways. The Swiss police are trying to change the issue by adding additional training, sometimes from outside agencies, for its officers. The Swiss police are focused on finding a positive solution for the racial profiling issue, which the U.S. could take into consideration.

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