Page:EB1911 - Volume 22.djvu/477

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for behaving in a riotous or indecent manner,” and also forbids indecent literature. This was strengthened by a special act (1839) applying to London only, for the prevention of “loitering for the purpose of prostitution or solicitation, to the annoyance of passengers or inhabitants.” Other large towns have since obtained private acts for the same purpose. The penalties are fines and short terms of imprisonment. In 1847 an act was passed making it an offence for publicans to allow “common prostitutes to assemble and continue” in licensed premises. The Licensing Act of 1872 contains a provision to the same effect. The previous law for dealing with brothels by indictment was strengthened by the Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1885, which renders “any person who keeps, manages or acts or assists in the management of a brothel,” and any owner or occupier who knowingly permits the same, liable to summary conviction under the Summary Jurisdiction Act; penalties for first offence, a fine up to £20, or imprisonment up to three months, increased for second offence to £40 and four months respectively. The same act also strengthened the law, which had previously been very weak, for the protection of the young and the prevention of procuration. It makes the procuration or attempted procuration of any girl or woman “to become a common prostitute” a misdemeanour punishable by two years imprisonment, and places the following offences on the same footing: procuring defilement by threats, fraud or drugs; compulsory detention for defilement or in a brothel; procuring the defilement of girls under twenty-one; inducing them to leave the kingdom or to leave home and go to a brothel, with intent. The defilement of girls under sixteen and over thirteen years of age is also a misdemeanour, and subject to the same penalty; the defilement of girls under thirteen is felony, punishable by penal servitude from five years up to a life-sentence. Owners or occupiers of premises conniving at these offences are equally liable.

No account of the law in the United Kingdom would be complete without some reference to the partial adoption of the system of examination as employed elsewhere in Europe in 1864-1883. In 1864 a Contagious Diseases Prevention Act was passed providing for the compulsory medical examination of prostitutes, and detention in hospital of those found diseased, in the following garrison towns: Portsmouth, Plymouth, Woolwich, Chatham, Sheerness, Aldershot, Colchester, Shorncliffe, the Curragh, Cork and Queenstown. The legal machinery was a justices' order granted on sworn information that the woman named was a common prostitute. “The Act having proved very inefficacious” (judge advocate-general in House of Commons, April 1883), it was amended in 1866 and extended to Windsor. Two years later an important memorial was drawn up by the royal colleges of physicians and surgeons in favour of the acts and their extended application, and in 1869 they were further amended and applied to Canterbury, Dover, Gravesend, Maidstone, Southampton and Winchester—eighteen places in all. A popular agitation, based on humanitarian and moral grounds, and continuously carried on against the measure led to the appointment of a royal commission in 1871 and a select committee in 1879. The direct evidence was strongly in favour of the acts, alike with regard to the diminution of disease among the troops in the protected towns, the absence of complaints and the good effect on public order, to which clergymen and other residents testified. The majority of the committee reported accordingly after three years' inquiry; but in 1883 the House of Commons passed a resolution, by 182 to 110 votes, condemning the compulsory examination of women. As this would have entailed refusal to vote the money required to carry on the system, it was immediately dropped, and the officers of the metropolitan police to whom its execution had been entrusted were recalled. In 1886 the C. D. Acts were repealed.

In India the system was introduced for military cantonments in 1865, partially suspended at the end of 1884, and stopped in 1888 on account of the action of the House of Commons. A new Cantonment Act was applied in 1889, and an amending act in 1893, by which the compulsory or periodical examination of women was prohibited. In consequence of the enormous increase of syphilis which followed, a new order was made in 1897, which gave power (1) to call on persons suffering from a contagious disease to attend the dispensary, (2) to remove brothels, (3) to prevent the residence or loitering of prostitutes near cantonments.

The foregoing summary of existing laws and regulations sufficiently indicates the present methods of dealing with prostitution. All Western nations broadly follow one or other of the systems described, though the local regulations may vary somewhat in minor details.

The French system of recognized houses, with registration, police des mœurs, &c., obtains in Belgium, Russia, Hungary, Conditions actually existing. Spain and Portugal; Italy adopted it in 1855, but abandoned it in 1888 for a modified system; in the Dutch towns maisons de tolérance are permitted with or without a service des mœurs; Norway has abandoned registration, except in Bergen and Trondhjem, but otherwise Scandinavia rather follows the German principle of non-recognition, with more or less vigorous policing; of the Swiss cantons, some have the French, others the German system; while the United States and the British self-governing colonies incline more to the English model of comparative freedom, without a moral police or one possessing arbitrary executive powers independent of the courts of justice. All the systems have their defects; all fail to fulfil their purpose in the great cities. The most modest aim is to preserve public order and propriety. This object is better secured on the continent of Europe than elsewhere, but at the cost of submitting to an arbitrary police rule, intolerable to a free people. There appears to be less prostitution, both visible and actual, in Italy than in other countries. Under the English system the streets can be, and sometimes are, kept orderly in provincial towns by an energetic police; but in London the mass of prostitution is so great that the police seem totally unable to cope with it. Important thoroughfares and centres are frequented by large numbers of prostitutes in broad daylight, and choked by them at night. The law with regard to loitering is a dead letter, for these women do nothing but loiter. Flagrant solicitation is to some, extent repressed, but for the most part the police content themselves with preventing positive tumults, and do not always succeed in that. On the other hand the less obvious but more pernicious nuisance of the brothel prevails to a far greater extent on the continent of Europe. Under the French system it is, of course, encouraged, in preference to “surreptitious” prostitution; but under the German it is forbidden. The facts here afford a proof of the impotence of the law no less striking than the condition of the London streets. By the German and Austrian criminal law, quoted above, brothels are prohibited, yet they abound in both countries. In Austria they are recognized, and perhaps the logic of the law is saved by permissive police clauses. In Germany it is not so. Paragraph 180 absolutely disposes of the question, and in Berlin it is acted on. Elsewhere brothels not only existed, but were recognized by authority for years after the passing of the laws against Kuppelei. It was not until 1886 and 1889 that they were nominally abolished in Hamburg and Saxony respectively. Yet they still exist in most or all of the large towns, with the knowledge and consent, if not with the permission, of the police. In some they are even authorized. Berlin, which is more severely policed than any town outside Russia, is an exception. There brothels are not openly winked at, but the police have to deal annually with 16,000 or 17,000 charges of Kuppelei, and the number remains very constant, from which it may be inferred that the law, even when logically and energetically carried out, is quite ineffective. The European system of registration is still more delusive. In Russia, where the authorities have the means of knowing the movements and habits of every individual, it may be possible to compel the registration of the majority of prostitutes, but in other countries it is impossible. The police everywhere complain of the amount of “clandestine” prostitution, which they