Swiss say no to nude hiking

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LISA MULLINS: The voters in a tiny eastern state in Switzerland have spoken. No more naked hiking, not in their backyard. It seems that dozens of mostly German nudists have been strolling through this part of the Alps. But the good people of Appenzell Inner Rhodes find the practice to be, in the words of an official statement, �thoroughly disturbing and irritating.� They voted yesterday to ban hikers from going au naturel. Reporter Sebastian Borger is a London correspondent for the Bonn-based newspaper, Rheinischer Merkur. He's now in London. Sebastian, how popular is hiking naked?

SEBASTIAN BORGER: I have to say, I wasn't aware that it was all that popular. I don't think it is. It must be very tiny minority. But of course, if there are 82 million Germans compared to the 7 million Swiss, they always cause a great stir in Switzerland.

MULLINS: Especially if they're naked.

BORGER: Indeed. Yes.

MULLINS: There's nowhere near that amount, but I wonder what this vote tells us about the attitude of the Swiss, then?

BORGER: You know, Appenzell Inner Rhodes is one of the most conservative places in the whole of Switzerland. They only allowed women to vote there in 1971. Until then it was men only, meeting in the marketplace and voting on the issues of the day by putting their hands up. On top of that, there is this issue at the moment of a lot of Germans coming into Switzerland because there is still work in Switzerland and not so much in Germany. And I think there is a kind of edginess. All of that I think underlies this rather interesting vote.

MULLINS: Well, speaking of the hikers themselves, are they completely naked?

BORGER: Yes. They seem to put on very tough hiking boots and then carry a very large and heavy rucksack around with them, but the rest is uncovered. I have to say, I'm not adverse to taking my kit off to have a quick swim or something, but I really wouldn't want to do hiking without anything on. But then, there you are.

MULLINS: Even despite the threat of an errant thorny bush?

BORGER: Indeed. Or indeed a fine of 250 Francs if you get caught.

MULLINS: So that's about a $176 dollar fine if you get caught doing this?

BORGER: It is, roughly. It is. Yes.

MULLINS: So is this part of a trend, do you suspect? And I wonder if you think that the nudists are being deliberately provocative?

BORGER: I wouldn't have thought so. There has been a nudist movement in Germany for roughly 100 years, starting with the youth movement at the turn of �90s into the 20th century.

MULLINS: Well, can you enlighten us about what it is with the Germans and the nude body?

BORGER: [LAUGHS] And I ask you back what is it with the Americans and the nude body? You know, when I first came to London 10 years ago, and very innocently went into the sauna, I was very sternly reminded that I had to keep my kilt on. And I thought, �To be in a sauna, in that very hot environment, isn't pleasant with your trunks on,� but there you are. It's just kind of cultural differences which make our lives just a little bit more fun.

MULLINS: Agreed. On both sides of the pond. Thank you very much.

BORGER: Indeed. Yes.

MULLINS: Thanks so much, Sebastian Borger. Thanks so much.

BORGER: Pleasure, Lisa. Bye.

MULLINS: Sebastian Borger reports for the German newspaper, Rheinischer Merkur.