Report No. 64
Comparative Position as to Prostitution in other Countries
Prostitution at common law-At common law, keeping a brothel is not an offence. A prostitute receiving men only into her own room could not be convicted of keeping a "brothel".1
It may be stated that "scandalous and public" indecent behaviour was, at common law, an offence2. The history of the offence of grossly open and notorious "lewdness-indecent exposure" is illustrative of this. To be indictable in earlier times, this act not only had to be public, but had to actually be seen by "more than one" non-consenting persons.3 The "more than one person" rule was, however, soon relaxed, to the extent that acts were held indictable if they were committed in a place "so situated that what passes there can be seen by a considerable number of people if they happen to look".4 However, courts, retaining this requirement as so modified, have still refused to indict the act when committed in private before a single non-consenting person5.
The law on the subject in England has now been modified by a number of enactments6.
1. Singleton v. Ellison, (1895) 1 QB 607; Archbold (1968), para. 3854.
2. Note "Homo-sexual Conduct", 70 Yale Law Journal 623, 624, and footnote 11.
3. (a) Regina v. Watson, (1847) 2 Cox Crim Cas 376; (b)Regina v. Orchard, (1848) 3 Cox Crim Cas 248.
4. (a) Van Houten v. State, 5 NLJ 311 (Essex Quarter Sess. 1882), a ff'd 46 NLJ 16 (Sup. Ct. 1884) (act committed in store) (USA);
(b) Regina v. Holmes, (1853) 6 Cox Crim Cas 216 (act in omnibus);
(c) Regina v. Thallman, (1863) 9 Cox Crim Cas 388 (act in roof).
5. See (1946) Burdick Law of Crimes, 967, cited in Note, "Homo-sexual Conduct", 70 Yale LJ 623, 624 and footnote 11.
6. See infra "Statutory provisions in England."
Statutory provisions in England-The main statutory offences in England relevant to prostitution are the following:-
Causing or encouraging women to become prostitutes: By section 22(1) of the Sexual Offences Act, 1956-
"It is an offence for a person-
(a) to procure a woman to become, in any part of the world, a common prostitute; or
(b) to procure a woman to leave the United Kingdom, intending her to become an inmate of or frequent a brothel elsewhere; or
(c) to procure a woman to leave her usual place of abode in the United Kingdom, intending her to become an inmate of, or frequent a brothel in any part of the world for the purpose of prostitution."