Trafficking in Women (1924-1926)

The Paul Kinsie Reports for the League of Nations - Vol. 2

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This book provides a transcription of the reports written by undercover agent Paul Kinsie for the League of Nations Special Body of Experts on Traffic in Women and Children in the mid-1920s. Between 1924 and 1926, a team travelled to more than a hundred cities in Europe, the Americas and the Mediterranean area to interview individuals involved in the regulation, repression, medical control, organization and practice of the sex trade. American undercover agents were included on the team to infiltrate the so-called ‘underworld’ and obtain ‘facts’ about the traffic. Among these, Kinsie was the most prolific. He visited more than forty cities and produced hundreds of reports in which his contacts with prostitutes, brothel owners, madams, pimps and procurers are described in detail. For a proper contextualization of the reports, scholars from around the world were asked to provide short introductions to the situation with regard to prostitution in each city that was visited. The book offers a unique source of information which is of great ethnographic value for people interested in the history of human trafficking and prostitution.



Prostitution in Paris

Since the early medieval period when Paris was an urban centre and one of the crossroads in Western Europe, prostitution has been part of the fabric of Parisian society. Licensed brothels and bath houses were ubiquitous, although over the years, some restrictions had been placed on them. Except for a brief period of repression in the thirteenth century and again in the late seventeenth century, efforts to suppress prostitution were few. Prostitutes could be harassed, but generally they were viewed sympathetically as pitiful and “fallen” creatures in need of penitentiary reform, “easy women”, or part of the public order. From the end of the reign of Louis XIV until the Revolution nearly a century later, the message remained mixed. Prostitutes who were found in military encampments could have their ears clipped, and the police were given the authority to conduct substantial raids. Prostitution came more and more to be considered as a condition, not yet pathological, or as a state of being. Prostitutes had not yet been defined as a subculture. Rather, poor women passed in and out of the sex trade.


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