Report No. 64
2.3. Developments in the latter half of 19th century.-
It was during the latter half of the 19th century that the Government of India took notice of the evil of prostitution. This was primarily because the Government was concerned about the health of the British soldiers who indulged in the vice. The problem was looked upon more or less as a public health problem, and also as a law and order problem. In 1892, the British House of Commons appointed a Committee to enquire into the practice of prostitution in India and also into the spread of venereal diseases. It was found that special arrangements were made for the supply of women. Medical check up and segregation till the women were cured, was the usual practice. All these efforts were, however, not considered adequate. More vigorous steps were, therefore felt necessary.
An Act aimed at discontinuance of brothels, known as the East Bengal and Assam Disorderly Houses Act, 1907, was passed in 1907. That Act was applicable to certain areas of East Bengal and Assam, and provided for the prosecution of the brothel keepers with the sanction of the District Magistrate or on a report of the Chairman of Municipality or on a complaint of three or more persons living in the neighbourhood. For verifying facts, the police officers were empowered to inspect such houses. For some years after this Act, no action of great significance was taken in relation to this subject.