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 Riga City

From 1710 to 1795 the area of present-day Latvia gradually passed into the Russian Empire as its Baltic Provinces (Provinces of Livland and Courland) and as a part of the Province of Vitebsk (Latgallia). Russia legalized prostitution in the nineteenth century and introduced an administrative system to regulate it, with the aim of restricting the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. Riga had already become part of the Russian Empire in 1710 during the Great Northern War (1700–1721), fought between Russia and Sweden. In 1843 an instruction was issued establishing a Medical Police Committee in Riga. Prostitutes in brothels and those working alone were registered by the police, were issued “tickets” instead of a passport and were required to undergo a police medical check-up once a week. In 1847 there were five brothels in Riga; by the early 1880s there were nine, and by 1891 there were 35. In the 1890s the number of brothels in Riga decreased: there were 23 in 1899, only one of which was in the city centre. At the close of the nineteenth century brothels were officially recognized as institutions necessary to the residents of Riga and serving their welfare.


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