Page:EB1911 - Volume 22.djvu/478

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463
PROSTITUTION

cannot control, and which tends always to increase, under the system, while the roll of inscribed women dwindles. The numbers alone are sufficient to prove the failure of the procedure; for instance, 311 and 270 in Dresden and Munich respectively (Zehnder 1891), both capital towns and cities of pleasure containing over 300,000 inhabitants. Cologne, with only half the population, had double the number on the register at the same time. In Paris, which may be called the headquarters of Western vice, the disproportion between registered and clandestine prostitution has reduced the whole system to an absurdity. The number of women on the roll is not a tenth of the estimated number of prostitutes; nor is Berlin, with about 3000 on the register, any better off. In Bordeaux, Brest, Lille, Lyons and Marseilles the same process is going on (Reuss). It follows that the protection of health, which is the object aimed at by registration, is delusive in an equal degree. There are no means of ascertaining the amount of venereal disease existing in any town or country, except in Norway, and consequently, no data for comparing one period or one place with another; but we know that all forms of such disease are still very prevalent in all large European towns, in spite of the system. The only exact figures available are the military returns, which are of some value. It is in garrison towns of moderate size that compulsory registration is likely to be most efficiently carried out and to produce the most decided results, because the women with whom soldiers consort are by their character and habits least able to elude the vigilance of the police. The following table gives the proportion of admissions to hospital from all forms of venereal disease in the German, French, Austrian and British forces for twenty years from 1876. It may be added that the proportion in the Russian army is almost identical with the French, while the Italian figures are slightly higher than the Austrian. It is therefore unnecessary to give them:—

Admissions per 1000 in European Armies.

 Year.   German.   French.   Austrian.  British
 (Home). 
British
 (India). 






1876 28.8 57.0 65.8 146.5 203.5
1877 30.0 57.8 66.9 153.2 224.4
1878 36.0 59.7 75.4 175.5 291.6
1879 38.5 63.7 81.4 179.5 253.3
1880 34.9 65.8 75.7 245.9 249.0
1881 39.2 60.6 79.0 245.5 259.6
1882 41.0 62.0 73.7 246.0 265.5
1883 38.2 58.9 73.3 260.0 271.3
1884 34.5 52.1 73.5 270.7 293.5
1885 32.6 50.7 69.0 275.4 342.6
1886 29.7 49.6 65.8 267.1 385.8
1887 28.6 51.6 64.4 252.9 361.4
1888 26.3 46.7 65.4 224.5 372.2
1889 26.7 45.8 65.3 212.1 481.5
1890 26.7 43.8 65.4 212.4 503.6
1891 27.2 43.7 63.7 197.4 400.7
1892 27.9 44.0 61.6 201.2 409.9
1893 42.8 64.5 194.6 466.0
1894 40.9 64.8 182.4 511.4
1895 173.8 522.3

The most striking thing in this table is the enormous difference between the continental and the British figures. To make the comparison more complete, we will add the following, which gives the average admissions per 1000 for the three years 1890-1892:—

 German.   French.   Russian.   Austrian.   Italian.   U.S.A.  British
 (Home). 
British
 (India). 
Dutch
 (Indies). 









27.2 43.6 43.0 63.5 71.3 77.4 203.6 438.0 455.6

It is clear at once that troops in the East stand upon an entirely different footing from those in the West, the Dutch figures being even higher than the British; we may therefore put them aside for the moment. Comparing the rest, we notice that not only are the British figures enormously higher than the other European, but the latter also show very large discrepancies; and since all the foreign troops are under the same protective system, we may conclude that other factors must be taken into account. The discipline maintained, the character of the soldiers themselves, and the procedure with regard to admission into hospital, no doubt all affect the returns. Further, a sort of epidemic rise and fall is to be noted. All the returns given in the first table show a simultaneous rise for several years, beginning with 1876; and having reached a maximum, each shows a progressive fall, likewise lasting over several years. This points to another disturbing factor. It is convincingly shown by the figures for the protected districts in the United Kingdom before, during, and after the period of protection. In 1864—that is, just before the first Contagious Diseases Act came into operation—the proportional figure was 260; ten years later it had fallen to 126; but in 1883 it had risen again to 234, in spite of the protection. Then, protection being removed, it rose to 276, but afterwards fell again progressively to 191 in 1895, without any protection. It is therefore evident that in interpreting the statistics allowance must be made for large fluctuations due to causes quite independent of the protective system. The margin of difference, however, between the British and European returns is so large that, when all allowances have been made, it is impossible to doubt that a considerable degree of real protection is afforded to soldiers by the system. This conclusion is confirmed by the comparatively high returns for the army of the United States, and still more by the Indian statistics. They rose gradually, it is true, during the cantonment system, but when that was dropped disease increased with shocking rapidity. Between 1887 and 1895 the admissions for primary syphilis rose from 75.5 to 174.1 per 1000, and those for secondary syphilis from 29.4 to 84.9.

The broad conclusion is that under special conditions, and when rigidly enforced, registration and medical examination do to a considerable extent fulfil the purpose of protecting health. Their failure to do so among the population at large and under the ordinary conditions of life is not surprising when we regard the amount of venereal disease which still occurs even among soldiers protected by the most rigorous measures and under the most favourable conditions.

A general view of the whole subject suggests no pleasant or hopeful conclusions. Prostitution appears to be inseparable from human society in large communities. In different countries and ages it has in turn been patronized and prohibited, ignored and recognized, tolerated and condemned, regulated and let alone, flaunted and concealed. Christianity, the greatest moral force in the history of mankind, has repeatedly and systematically attacked it with a scourge in one hand and balm in the other; but the effect has been trifling or transient. Nor have all the social and administrative resources of modern civilization availed to exercise an effective control. The elementary laws on which prostitution rests are stronger than the artificial codes imposed by moral teaching, conventional standards or legislatures; and attempts at repression only lead to a change of form, not of substance. It survives all treatment; and though it may coexist with national vigour, its extravagant development is one of the signs of a rotten and decaying civilization. In Western communities the traffic is not carried on so openly as in the East, nor is it exploited for purposes of public revenue, as among the ancients and in the middle ages; a veil of reticence and secrecy, for the most part of a transparently flimsy character, is thrown over it; but whatever is gained in public decency is counterbalanced by other attendant evils. Two, in particular, are fostered by the policing of prostitutes. One is the system of blackmail levied by the executive. The scandal has been most notorious in the United States, but it exists everywhere, and is a constant source of profound corruption. The other is the growth of the most degraded class that ever disgraced the name of man—the creatures who live upon the earnings of individual prostitutes, with whom they cohabit. They are called souteneurs in France, louis in Germany, cadets in New York, and by various slang names in Great Britain. They are all criminals. They flourish chiefly on the continent of Europe, where they exist in large and ever-increasing numbers; but they find their way everywhere, and are a dangerous