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 Budapest in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century

As in other parts of Europe, in Austria-Hungary prostitution during the nineteenth century was recognized by reformers and “respectable” society as a phenomenon of massive proportions and a cause for alarm. The perception of the nature of prostitution, the underlying social and cultural factors fostering it, as well as its consequences for the social order were also similar to those in other parts of Europe. Prostitution was seen as a necessary evil that could not be eradicated, and its apparent unprecedented expansion to the public spaces of Budapest and Vienna was considered a natural consequence of particularly rapid urbanization. Regulationism predominated over other approaches as government policy. Naturally, the exact nature of the policies that were implemented was shaped by local traditions of municipal governance and the police, and by cultural norms. In comparison with Vienna, which was a Catholic stronghold and where attempts at introducing regulatory norms and legislation were for decades strongly opposed by the clerical elite that saw it as a policy of “legalizing the whores”, late nineteenth-century Hungary and its capital city traditionally practised a much more laissez-faire attitude in line with other initiatives of the Transleithania’s ruling liberal government. Thus while the system of regulation was similar to that of Cisleithania, enforcement of the regulation was different in the sense that the Hungarian authorities were given fewer powers of coercion and control.


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