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Report No. 64

Loitering or Soliciting in Public Places:

In all the offences so far considered, the crime is committed not by the prostitute but by another. The legislation now to be considered is aimed at the prostitute herself. Its object is not the suppression or discouragement of prostitution, but the elimination of an offence against public order and decency arising from the activities of prostitutes in public places. The present law is to be found in the Street Offences Act, 1959, which provides, in section 1

"(I) It shall be an offence for a common prostitute to loiter or solicit in a street or publid place for the purpose of prostitution." Section 1(4) of the Street Offences Act, 1959 provides:

"For the purposes of this section 'street' includes any bridge, road, lane, footway, subway, square, court, alley or passage whether a thoroughfare or not, which is for the time being open to the public; and the doorways and entrances of premises abutting on a street (as hereinbefore defined), and any ground adjoining and open to a street, shall be treated as forming part of the street."

"Soliciting" takes place in a street or public place where the solicitation takes effect there, even though the accused may be outside the street or public place. In Smith v. Hughes, (1960) 2 All ER 859 (861), attracted the attention, of men in the street by tapping on the window pane, and by gestures invited them and indicated the price of her services. Applying the "mischief rule" of construction, the Divisional Court dismissed her appeal:

"Every body knows that this was an Act intended to clear up the streets, to enable people to walk along the streets without being "molested or solicited" by common prostitutes. Viewed in that way, it can matter little whether the prostitute is soliciting while in the street or is standing in a doorway or on a balcony, or at the window, or whether the window is shut or open or half open; in each case her solicitation is projected to and addressed to somebody walking in the street."

Of course, a person who is not criminally punished by the law, can still be denied its protection. Thus, the doctrine that the inn-keeper must admit all travellers is not applicable to a prostitute.1 A landlord who lets a flat for fornication may not recover his rent.2

Other countries-Having dealt with English law, we give below a brief summary3of the position in a few other countries.

Cambodia-In Cambodia, a number of licensed brothels and houses of prostitution exist under special regulations other than licensing. Clandestine prostitutes are prosecuted under Article 430 of the Penal Code. Their arrest is the responsibility of the "public morals police", which keeps a special register of persons so arrested and sent to treatment centres, as well as of inmates of licensed or recognised brothels.

Canada-Position as to Canada is dealt with later.4

1. (a) Raider v. Dizile Inn, (1923) 198 Kr 248 SW 229 (1923) (USA).

(b) Sultan Turkish Bath, Inc. v. Board of Police Commissioners, 169 Cal App 2d 188: 337 P 2d 203 (Dist Ct App 1959) (USA).

2. Upfill v. Wright, (1911) 1 KB 506.

3. Material mostly based on International Review of Criminal Policy (October 1958), No. 13.

4. See below under "USA and Canada".

In Chile, on October 4, 1955, the Ministry of Health issued a new regulation concerning the prevention of venereal disease, which provided for the suppression of all brothels in the country and the discontinuance of the medical inspection relating to the occupants of such establishments.

Denmark-In Denmark, prostitution is not an offence as such. The police, may, however, order a prostitute to seek lawful occupation under section 199 of the Criminal Law and if the prostitute fails to comply with the order, she can be imprisoned upto one year. Section 233 of the Criminal Law provides that any person who offends public decency by her way of life, or by importuning other persons, is liable to simple detention or to imprisonment upto one year. The sentence is normally suspended for the first offence.

France-In France, Act of 24th April, 1946, and the decree of 1947 contain the law on the subject. The Ministry of Health has established a Central health and social card index of prostitutes. Prostitution per se is not an offence. The Act of 1946 provides for penalties for its public manifestation. Also, the Act punishes procurers of all types, but this law is not effective.,

Haiti-In Haiti, prostitution is regulated by the Decree of 13th June, 1927. Prostitutes who are not inmates of recognised brothels are not subjected to general or administrative measures; they are tolerated.

Suppression of Immoral Traffic in Women and Girls Act, 1956 Back

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