Page:EB1911 - Volume 22.djvu/476

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461
PROSTITUTION

those of the 16th and 17th centuries, previously mentioned. The theory of the modern attitude towards prostitution is clearly laid down by successive ordinances issued in Berlin. Those of 1700 stated that “this traffic is not permitted, but merely tolerated”; the more precise ones of 1792 pronounced the toleration of prostitution a necessary evil, “to avoid greater disorders which are not to be restrained by any law or authority, and which take their rise from an inextinguishable natural appetite”; and the regulations of 1850 and 1876 are headed: “Polizeiliche Vorschriften zur Sicherung der Gesundheit, der öffentlichen Ordnung und des öffentlichen Anstandes.” This embraces the whole theory of present administration, and if Gesundheit be omitted, is not less applicable to the United Kingdom than to the continent. The last attempt to suppress prostitution in Germany is worth noting, as it occurred so late as 1845. Registration was stopped and the tolerated houses were closed in Berlin, Halle and Cologne. The attempt was a complete failure, and it was abandoned in 1851 in favour of the previous system.

We proceed to state the present condition of the law in France, Germany, Austria and the United Kingdom.

France.—The French criminal law takes no cognizance of prostitution. The subject was omitted from the penal code Present laws. drawn up by the first Republic, and was never restored, although many attempts were made to introduce legislation, on account of the great disorder which arose. Procuration is to a certain extent a criminal offence. Paragraph 334 of the code forbids the exciting, favouring or facilitating habitually the debauch of girls or boys under twenty-one years of age; the penalty is imprisonment for six months to two years, and a fine of 50 to 500 francs. If the offence is committed by parents, guardians or other persons in a tutelary position, imprisonment is from two to five years, and the fine 300 to 1000 francs. The regulation of prostitution rests on the law of 1790, which entrusted the preservation of public tranquillity to the administrative authorities; these are in Paris the prefect of police, and in other communes the mayor. The Parisian regulations have been built up by the decrees of successive prefects. They are based on those of 1778, which fell into abeyance at the Revolution, were reintroduced in 1816, amended in 1823, and made more complete in 1830 and 1841. Those adopted in other towns do not differ in any essential particular. The more important points are: (1) registration of prostitutes, which is either voluntary, or compulsory after repeated arrest; (2) recognized brothels, which are of two classes—maisons de tolérance (residential) and maisons de passe (houses of call); (3) medical examination, which is weekly at the maisons de tolérance, while other registered prostitutes must present themselves fortnightly at the dispensary; (4) hospital treatment of those found diseased; (5) rules with regard to solicitation, the frequenting of public places, &c. A small fee is paid for examination. The penalty for infraction of regulations is imprisonment; offences are divided into two classes: (1) slight, (2) grave, and the term of imprisonment varies accordingly from fourteen days to one year. Names may be erased from the register on the following grounds: (1) marriage, (2) organic disease such as to render the calling impossible, (3) return to relations and proof of good behaviour. The whole procedure appears to rest on grounds of doubtful legality. Prostitution never comes before the courts which alone can try offences and pronounce sentence. The police have no power to do so, yet they both try and sentence these women. That is to say, the whole system depends on their doing, by some verbal quibble, what they have no power to do. The question came before the court of Reims in 1876, in the case of two women who refused to submit to medical examination, and the judge decided in their favour. He was dismissed in consequence, which does not make the situation more satisfactory.

Germany.—The German law is more explicit and more logical. Prostitution is not forbidden, but by paragraph 361 of the Imperial Code women are liable to arrest for practising prostitution without being under police control, and for contravening regulations after they have been placed under such control. This brings the traffic completely under the police, and gives legal sanction to their regulations. These vary to some extent in different places, but their general tenor is the same. They include compulsory registration and weekly or semi-weekly medical examination, together with rules, for the most part extremely strict, with regard to public demeanour and conditions of life. In Hamburg, for instance, prostitutes are confined to certain streets or houses, forbidden to share lodgings with persons not registered, to have female servants under twenty-five years of age, to keep children after school age, to admit young men under twenty, to make a noise or quarrel, to attract attention in any way, to go out between two and five in summer, to frequent certain parts of the town, or public balls, or superior seats in the theatre, to remain out after 11 p.m. (Regulations of 1886). On proved reclamation, supervision may be relaxed or names struck off the register. Generally, the women are compelled to contribute a fixed sum to a sick fund, for defraying the cost of medical examination; and in some places also to a journey fund, which is applied to sending strangers to their homes. Brothels are absolutely illegal throughout Germany. Paragraph 180 of the Imperial Code (1876) made Kuppelei a penal offence. Kuppelei is defined as promoting prostitution, either by procuration or by providing facilities of any kind. There is (1) ordinary Kuppelei, or simply assisting prostitution for gain, and (2) aggravated Kuppelei, which includes false pretences and procuration by parents, guardians, teachers, &c. The penalty for the former is a short term of imprisonment and police supervision; for the latter, penal servitude up to five years. It is obvious that if this law were strictly enforced, it would amount to suppression, for every householder or house owner who harboured a prostitute would be liable to prosecution. Its actual interpretation, however, is very elastic. A law passed in Prussia in 1900 has for its object the reclamation of the young. Girls under eighteen may be placed under control until they are twenty-one.

Austria.—The Austrian law goes farther than the German, and is still more inconsistent with the existing practice. By paragraph 5 of the Criminal Act of 1885 prostitution is actually forbidden, but permission is given to the police to tolerate it under conditions, and to prescribe regulations according to circumstances. Power to punish is also given to the police. Only certain cases of prostitution are liable to criminal prosecution, namely, when continued after police punishment, with disregard of regulations, when practised by persons suffering from venereal disease, and when accompanied by public scandal. Seduction of the young is punishable by imprisonment, eight days to six months; living on the prostitution of others, by eight days to three months. Kuppelei is a penal offence. Simple Kuppelei include (1) harbouring prostitutes for the purpose of pursuing their trade, (2) procuration, (3) having any connexion with the traffic—penalty, three to six months' imprisonment; qualified Kuppelei is (1) procuration of innocent persons (equivalent to use of false pretences), (2) procuration by parents, guardians, &c.—penalty, one to five years. The police regulations and procedure are similar to those in Germany, but less strict. In all these countries a special service of police is employed.

Great Britain.—The English law differs markedly from the foregoing. It regards prostitution solely as a public nuisance, and dates from the middle of the 18th century. The principal act (25 Geo. II.) was passed in 1755, making perpetual a previous act of 1752. It is entitled “An act for encouraging prosecutions against persons keeping bawdy-houses,” and provides that two ratepayers, on giving notice to a constable, may go with him before a justice and obtain an order for proceeding against the persons in question. A further act was passed in 1763, fixing the penalties, and a third in 1818 (58 Geo. III.), enabling the overseers of the parish to take the requisite proceedings. Thus machinery was provided for dealing with brothels, but it was left to the public to put it in motion. The Vagrancy Act of 1824 enables the police to proceed against “common prostitutes