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Trafficking in Women (1924-1926)

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

image of Trafficking in Women (1924-1926)

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.

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Prostitution in Prague in the nineteenth and the early twentieth century

Prague has been a major centre for prostitution since the late sixteenth century, when Rudolf II moved the royal residence there from Vienna. Traditionally, prostitution establishments were located in the vicinity of the Castle in the Lesser Town. Attempts to control and prohibit prostitution, initiated in Vienna from the late eighteenth century, were made in Prague as well, although less rigidly. In Vienna under Maria Theresa, brothels were forbidden and prostitutes expelled; her successor, Joseph II, legalized them and brought them under medical control in consideration of public safety in view of the spread of venereal disease. The nine-volume work by the director of Vienna’s General Hospital, Johann Peter Frank, Complete System of Medical Policy (System einer vollständigen medicinischen Polizey, first published in 1779) immensely influenced general views on prostitution. Frank advised strict control of brothels by the state and medical authorities and a simultaneous ruthless curbing of illegal prostitution. In Prague, prostitutes were never expelled, but the trend towards more medical and police regulation can be clearly observed. Between 1792 and 1827 a number of imperial and provincial decrees (such as the Bohemian decree of 14 November 1807) brought prostitutes under medical and police control throughout the entire territory of the Habsburg Empire, with offenders risking prison sentences. The decree of the provincial government of Bohemia of 12 July 1819 brought prostitutes under the direct control of the municipal police. From that point onwards the municipal governments registered prostitutes, issued identity cards for them and carried out medical examinations every other week.

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