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Report No. 64

Hungary-In Hungary, registration of prostitutes was abolished in June, 1950.

Ireland-In Ireland, no licensed or recognized brothels nor any system of registration of prostitutes exists. Section 16 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1935 provides that every common prostitute who is found loitering in any street, or other place and soliciting passersby for the purpose of .prostitution shall be guilty of an offence and on conviction be liable, in the case of the first offence, to a fine not exceeding two pounds or in case of subsequent offences to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months.

Poland-In Poland, heterosexual prostitution is not a punishable offence. But, as regards homosexual prostitution, Article 207 of the Penal Code provides that any person who offers himself for reasons of profit to a person of the same sex for the purpose of committing an immoral act shall be liable to a term of imprisonment for 3 years. Under further provisions of the Penal Code, consorting with relatives in the direct line, with a brother or sister or with minors, exploiting the prostitution of others and inducing another person to engage professionally in immoral acts, are punishable offences. In a number of cities where the problem of prostitution is acute, names of all prostitutes who had committed an offence were previously entered in a special card register which also contains personal data e.g. education, age etc. This system was abolished in April, 1956, and now no system of registration exists in Poland.

Spain-In Spain, the Penal Code provides for the offences of protecting or abetting prostitutes, and inducing other persons by deception, violence or threats to satisfy the unlawful desires of others. If the woman involved is under 21 years, offenders are liable to heavier penalties, and any person who fails to place under restraint a minor subject to his legal authority who is, to his knowledge, engaging in prostitution or residing in a house or place of ill fame, is liable to arrest on a major charge, and may be disqualified from acting as guardian and deprived of his parental authority. Persons engaged in clandestine prostitution as a means of livelihood, and the protectors of such person, are also liable to sentence of confinement or special supervision under the Vagrants and Beggars Law. The legislative Decree of 3rd March, 1956 declares prostitution to be an illicit traffic and prohibits brothels and other similar establishments.

Sri Lanka-In Sri Lanka, there are no licensed or recognised brothels, and prostitutes are not subject to registration. Prostitution is an offence under the Brothels Ordinance and the Vagrants Ordinance. The Brothels Ordinance does not provide for the punishment of the women found in a brothel presumably for the purpose of prostitution, but a charge could be made against them under section 9(1A) of the Vagrants Ordinance. Such a charge, however, is extremely difficult to prove, and a great handicap to the raiding of such houses arises from the fact that the courts frown on the police practice of using "decoys" in order to trap the women.

U.S.A. and Canada-Under the different laws in force in the U.S.A. and Canada, the term "prostitution" is generally construed to mean the offering or receiving of the body for hire for the purpose of sexual intercourse. In some .States, a further qualification is added; the term "prostitution" includes the offering or receiving of the body for indiscriminate sexual intercourse, without hire. It may be assumed that a "promiscuous" woman (as distinct from a prostitute) shows some degree of discrimination and emotional involvement, and that payment to her does not take form of a fee for services rendered, although some less tangible consideration may be received.

The line of demarcation, however, (between promiscuity and prostitution) is not a hard or fast one. Further, the same woman may shift back and forth between "prostitution" and "promiscuity" as the economic and other conditions of her life change. Generally speaking, the prostitute group includes women who derive entire earnings from this, as well as those who are waitresses, barmaids, dance hall girls etc.

The Federal Act in the U.S.A. (known as the White Slave Traffic Act) prohibits and penalises, as a felony, the act of any person who transports, causes to be transported, or aids or assists in transporting any woman or girl in inter-state or foreign commerce for the purpose of prostitution or debauchery or any other immoral purpose, or who knowingly procures or obtains, causes to be procured or obtained, or aids or assists in procuring or obtaining any ticket or tickets or any form of transportation to be used by any woman or girl in inter-State or foreign commerce for the purpose of prostitution or debauchery or for any other immoral purpose1.

Knowingly to persuade, induce, entice, or coerce, or to aid or assist in persuading, inducing, enticing, or coercing any woman to go from one place to another in inter-State or foreign commerce for the purpose of prostitution, debauchery, or other immoral purpose2, or knowingly to persuade, induce, entice, or coerce any woman or girl under the age of eighteen years from any state or territory or from the District of Columbia to any other state or territory or District of Columbia, with the purpose and intent to induce or coerce her or that she shall be induced or coerced to engage in prostitution or debauchery or any other immoral practice, or in furtherance of such purpose knowingly to induce or cause her to go and to be carried or transported as a passenger in inter-State commerce upon the line or route of any common carrier or carriers3 are also declared to constitute felonies.

1. 18 US Code, s. 397.

2. 18 US Code, s. 398.

3. 18 US Code, s. 400.

Prostitution in one form or another has existed on the North American continent since the very early days of its history. In the 19th century, the white slave traffic prospered in business and residential areas. Brothel keepers and pimps grew rich, but the prostitutes themselves were always in debt to the brothel owners.

With the dawn of the 20th century, there was public awakening, in Western Europe, particularly in England and in France. In London, the first International Conference for the Suppression of Traffic in Women in 1899 was held. In 1902, the first International Conference for the Suppression of the White Slave Traffic net in Paris to draft a Treaty. By 1904, an international agreement for suppressing the international traffic in women had been adopted by 13 nations: Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

The U.S. accepted to it in 1906. In 1917, the U.S. Congress passed an Act which prohibited prostitution within a prescribed area around military or naval installations. Following these, several states enacted laws against all phases of commercialised prostitution, and passed 'injunction and abatement' laws. The laws against traffic in women and girls aimed at the prosecution of procurers and other promoters of vice. The 'injunction and abatement' laws provided for the suppression of disorderly houses as public nuisance. These resulted, in many states, in the closing of many houses of prostitution; this marked the beginning of the end of these districts as an American institution.

By, 1948, every State in the U.S.A. had enacted some kind of improved vice-repressive laws. By defining "prostitution" so as to include both the giving as well as taking of the body in indiscriminate sexual intercourse for hire, and by penalising the customer as well as the prostitute, some States1 marked a long step forward in legislation in this field.

1. E.g. Arizona, Florida, New Hampshire and Wisconsin.

Between the two World Wars, there was growing interest in public health and a campaign for control of venereal disease and for vice-repressive laws was adopted. The May Act, 1941-"to prohibit prostitution within such reasonable distance of military and/or naval establishments as the Secretary of War and/or Navy shall determine to be needful to the efficiency, health and welfare of the Army and/or Navy" is worth particular notice. By 1948, every State in the U.S.A. had enacted some kind of repressive legislation.

The "regulationist" system, involving the registration of prostitute and the regulation of brothels, had been tried out in one form or another in the United States and Canada. This proved ineffective, and was abandoned in favour of a policy of strict repression. The American point of view on regulation was influenced by the fact that (1) "regulation does not regulate" but simply increases the demand for prostitution, and (2) the regulationist system involves the Governments concerned as partners in licence fees and levying taxes. At present, the federal law in Canada against commercialised prostitution and the State laws in the U.S.A. classify prostitution and traffic in persons as a crime, and call for its strict repression. The trend is towards decreased commercialised prostitution, because of effective law enforcement, and improvement in economic conditions.

In the U.S.A., the Federal Government may enact special legislation to protect servicemen from the threat of prostitution activities, and the commanding officers of army, navy and air force installations may place out of bounds to servicemen the neighbouring brothels and other resorts where illegal sex contracts are made or attempted. However, the role of the Federal Government is restricted largely to the Immigration and Naturalisation Service, and to the F.B.I. which takes action only when the traffic in persons crosses State lines.

State attorneys can take action where the law is not complied with. Further, State health authorities may bring pressure on municipal governments to secure the enforcement of these laws. The State laws differ. In New York City, for example, a prostitute when apprehended is taken to the police station, where she is charged and if of a legal age taken to a house of detention to await trial. A minor is placed temporarily in a home for delinquent girls. With least possible delay, they are brought before the Court for Women Vagrants, or if under age, before the Juvenile Court; bail may be granted; the Court moves quickly.

If it is a first offence and evidence is sufficient to warrant conviction, a suspended sentence may be given, or the convict may be placed on probation. If she is a recidivist and of legal age, she is often given prison sentence of 30 days to a year. If she is a minor, she is given an indeterminate sentence in a rehabilitative institution. New York does not fine convicted prostitutes. A large fine is found to be a deterrent, but a smaller fine is useless.

Law in New York-Sections 230.00, 230.05 and 230.10 of the 1965 New York State Penal Law read as follows1:-

1. See Pamela A. Roby Politics and Criminal Law-Revision of New State Penal Law on Prostitution, (1969 Summer), Vol. 17, No. 1, Social Problems 83, 85.

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

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