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 Berlin and Hamburg

Historically, prostitution was not illegal in the German-speaking lands of Europe, where it was defined as the exchange of sex for money between a client and a female prostitute. Records of brothels, or ‘women’s houses’ (Frauenhäuser) go back at least as far as the thirteenth century, and in places like Berlin and Hamburg prostitution was widely considered a necessary, if morally dubious, activity. German municipalities even tacitly encouraged prostitution, seeing it as a way of preventing what were considered the more problematic activities of rape and adultery. Although attitudes towards prostitution hardened with the Reformation and the emergence of the venereal disease, syphilis, in the sixteenth century, a highly localized and relatively professional trade continued to operate quietly. The village prostitutes were well known to their clientele but relatively invisible.


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