PATRON SAINT OF PROSTITUTES


PATRON SAINT OF PROSTITUTES

HELEN MATHERS    Book Number: 83343    Product format: Hardback

In Victorian England, police forces were granted powers to force any woman they suspected of being a 'common prostitute' to undergo compulsory and invasive medical examination, while women who refused to submit willingly, some as young as 13, could be arrested and incarcerated. This scandal was exposed by Josephine Butler, a beautiful Evangelical campaigner who did not rest until she had ended the violation and helped repeal the Act that governed it. She went on to campaign against child prostitution, the trafficking of frightened girls from Britain to Europe, and government-sponsored brothels in India. Shocked by the exploitation of young girls, Josephine Butler recommended that the age of consent for sex should be raised from 12 to 14 years old, and that girls under 16 should be sent to a home or industrial school with the aim of rehabilitation. Graphic evidence about 'steel rape' led a Royal Commission to recommend the ending of the compulsory fortnightly examination for suspected prostitutes. Women should be instead encouraged to attend voluntarily and if found to be diseased, detained in hospital, until they were cured. The text was loaded with double standards, calling prostitutes 'miserable creatures who were masses of rottenness and vehicles of disease'. It dismissed the idea that the men should be examined as well since, it is 'an irregular indulgence of a natural impulse'. Steel rape is a scandal almost forgotten today, an attack on women's bodies. Josephine called the speculum a 'hideous instrument of hell' and could not abide the 'terrible aristocratic doctors' who had increase in political power and imposed this violent vaginal examination. Josephine made no distinction between 'respectable' and 'fallen' women, the issue was about 'justice to one half of the human race'. It had all been about providing disease-free prostitutes for the armed services. In her private life, Josephine was surrounded by good men, but she had to attack many in high command for the evil practice she had discovered. Curiously she also found that some wealthy women paid their private doctors for the examination. Thankfully, times change. 256pp, illustrations and maps in a remarkable piece of social history.
Published price: £16.99
Bibliophile price: £7.00


Additional product information

ISBN 9780752492094
Browse these categories as well: History, Historical Biography, Erotica

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