Prostitution as a problem of the city of Wrocław in the 19th century

Marek Czapliński
Original title: Prostytucja jako problem miasta Wrocławia w XIX wieku
Śląski Kwartalnik Historyczny Sobótka 1999
Translated by: Katarzyna Hussar

It is a well known fact that prostitution has been amongst those problems which, especially in the cities, constantly recurred as particularly difficult to solve, if at all solvable. Over centuries, two primary approaches to prostitution can be observed: a ‘hard-line’ one, which prohibits establishing and running brothels as ‘hotbeds of sin’, ‘breeding ground for perversion’, and later even centres for ‘white slavery’; and a ‘pragmatic’ one, which tolerates brothels as the ‘lesser evil’ and allows prostitutes to be examined by physicians, thus making it possible to pick women with venereal disease, so that they would not spread it further. Of course, in between these two extremes, many other were considered, especially that it turned out in practice that ‘barracking’ prostitutes was not helping to reduce the incidence of the disease. In any case, centuries of experience indicated that prostitution could not be eradicated without draconian measures, and that it was only possible to restrict it to some degree…

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