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 Vienna in the nineteenth century

Vienna, the Habsburg capital and a Catholic stronghold, has a long history of measures against prostitution which, apart from serving as a model for other regions of the Empire, were also strongly shaped by the imperial court and the clerical elite. The first systematic — though unsuccessful — attempts to eradicate prostitution date back to the late eighteenth century and the rule of Empress Maria Theresa. In 1752, the empress established what would become known as the Chastity Committee (Keuschheitskommission, also Keuschheitsgericht and Zuchtgericht), an institution that was dedicated exclusively to issues of prostitution, extramarital sex, objectionable behaviour and homosexuality among the citizens of Vienna. At that time, particularly tough measures were introduced that dealt with prostitutes in tandem with other undesired groups such as tramps, vagabonds and women living in common-law marriage. The story of the expulsion of all the prostitutes apprehended in Vienna (some estimates spoke of as many as 3,000 women) and their deportation down the Danube to Temesvár in the Banat region in the Balkans between 1744 and 1768 is legendary and often cited in literature on the history of prostitution in Central Europe. The result of such harsh measures was the opposite of that desired: prostitution continued to thrive. While her son, Emperor Joseph II, abolished the Chastity Committee along with a number of other historic public punishments for prostitutes such as public shaming, wearing of chains and the cutting of hair, the majority of the earlier laws forbidding prostitution remained in force and, until the middle of the nineteenth century, prostitution remained within the juristiction of criminal law.


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