When Did Prostitution Become Legal in England

When Did Prostitution Become Legal in England

The morality of prostitution was very much present in the discussions of the Macmillan Committee. Concerns about how the prostitute should be defined in relation to other women, the influence of her presence on other women, and her alleged influence on public morality were key elements in debates in the 1920s. During the Committee`s hearings, the appropriateness of the term “ordinary prostitutes” was discussed. While some argued that the term was unfair because it predisposed courts against women identified in this way, other officials advocated removing it as a legal category on the grounds that they should be able to use the law to target anyone who requests it. It was therefore plausible, even for reactionary proponents of social purity, to question the effectiveness of poaching laws and argue for the abolition of the legal category of ordinary prostitutes. Prostitution was not a criminal offence under English or American common law, and although prostitution was not a criminal offence prior to the First World War, prostitution was generally regulated as a certain type of vagrancy. When prostitutes were punished as sexual deviants, it was under laws against adultery or fornication, or because they were “ordinary night walkers”—women who walked the streets at night for immoral reasons. As in many other countries, there are sex workers` rights groups in the UK who argue that the best solution to the problems associated with prostitution is decriminalisation. These groups have been critical of the provisions of the 2009 Police and Crime Act.

Founded in 1975, the English Collective of Prostitutes (ECP) advocates for the decriminalisation of prostitution, sex workers` right to recognition and security, and financial alternatives so that poverty does not force anyone into prostitution; In addition, the ECP provides information, assistance and support to individual prostitutes and others concerned with sex workers` rights. One MP, Nikki Adams, said the government is exaggerating the magnitude of the human trafficking problem and that most prostitution activities are consensual. [65] The UK-based International Sex Workers Union (IUSW), part of the GMB union, defends the labour rights of people working in the sex industry. The recommendation has been denounced by groups whose goal is to end prostitution, which they see as a source of sexual inequality and harmful to women. Amnesty International has received support from public health advocates and activists who see decriminalisation as the best way to reduce the harms associated with the sex industry, including underage prostitution, human trafficking and violence. The debate will certainly be repeated, and it will almost certainly be full of accusations of treason. This report was followed in 2016 by an investigation by the House of Commons Select Committee on Home Affairs. The research examined the different approaches of countries that had both legalized prostitution and introduced laws against buyers of sexual services. In its report, the committee did not recommend either option and called for more evidence to be provided for this particular debate. The Wolfenden Report recommended increased penalties for incitement and suggested removing the need to prove harassment in order to obtain a conviction – proposals adopted in the 1959 Highway Traffic Penal Code.

The final report justified the application of the law on the control of prostitution because, when practiced on the street, it was a form of immorality visible to the general public. The committee presented a pragmatic solution to the problem of recruitment: it believed that the law should only prosecute prostitution if it was practised in the public space. Actions between individuals in the private sphere, for example at home or in hotels, were moral rather than legal issues. The result was that prostitutes were forced into the house and the prostitute continued to be used as a warning of the dangers of female immorality. Prostitution in early modern England was defined by a series of attempts by kings, queens, and other government officials to ban people from working in the sex industry. [2] [3] [4] There have been ups and downs in prohibition orders, separated by periods of indifference at different levels of the English government. Areas such as Southwark, which had gained a reputation as a hub for prostitution and entertainment, originally outside London`s jurisdiction, were incorporated into the city in the early modern period. Some illegal businesses in these areas continued to offer their services to interested customers more discreetly, but many brothels and related businesses re-emerged in less visible areas of London, disguised as other types of businesses. [2] [4] Home Office, Paying the Price: A consultation paper on prostitution, July 2004.

Most other towns in medieval England had brothels, and in some places brothels were official and public. As a rule, prostitutes are only allowed to practice their profession on certain roads or in designated areas. Laws have often been passed requiring prostitutes to dress differently from other women considered “respectable”. [35] Laws varied from city to city, and prostitution in a given location was regulated, de facto, if not de jure, authorized or prohibited. The regulation of prostitution in England lasted until 1546, when fears that brothels would contribute to the spread of syphilis led Henry VIII to issue a royal proclamation. This banned all brothels in England[31] and ended “tolerance” for prostitutes described as “dissolute and miserable persons”. [36] One of the earliest evidence of prostitution in the country was given by the discovery of a Roman spintria on the banks of the Thames, a small bronze panel depicting a man and a woman engaged in a sexual act. Some researchers have suggested that spintrias are brands of brothels used to access brothels or pay prostitutes. [30] In 2010, in response to the murders of three prostitutes in Bradford, the new Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron declared that the decriminalization of prostitution should be “reviewed.” He also called for tougher measures against crawling and drug abuse. [102] [103] The Association of Chief Police Officers suggested that designated red light zones and decriminalized brothels could help improve the safety of prostitutes.

[104] The defendants in a typical case in Manchester attempted to use the Human Rights Act 1998 to argue that the brothel law violated their human rights by not allowing them to work together as prostitutes safely. However, the case collapsed in 2016 without a verdict. [4] Contrary to the recommendations of the 1929 Street Offences Committee, the government did in fact act in accordance with the Wolfenden Report. They repealed laws against homosexuality. They repealed the three poaching laws and replaced them with the Street Offences Act 1959, which criminalized “any ordinary prostitute loitering or soliciting for prostitution.” In accordance with the views expressed in the report and the factual situation developed by the criminal justice system, the harassment clause was formally removed from the law. As it is omnipresent in society, it is not surprising that there are literary works that deal with the subject of prostitution. Below are two poems illustrating aspects of prostitution in Victorian life. In 1957, one year after the adoption of the Sexual Offences Act, the County Committee on Homosexual Offences and Prostitution published the “Wolfenden Report”, named after its chairman. She agreed with nineteenth-century libertarians that it was not the task of the state to monitor private morality. For these reasons, it recommended repealing laws criminalizing homosexuality.

She also argued that prostitution could not be condemned by law as immoral per se. However, unlike the previous Street Offences Committee in 1929, it did not advocate the repeal of heavily criticized advertising laws. Instead, she proposed a streamlined repressive approach, invoking a discourse of rights: not by referring, as feminists did in the 1920s, to the rights of prostituted women to equality and justice before the law, but by defending the rights of “respectable” citizens to enjoy neighborhoods free from the scourge of street prostitution. This discourse on civil rights, which also called for women`s right not to be harassed, even drew some feminists into the new consensus of controlling prostitution. Currently, there are a number of different legal frameworks around the world regarding prostitution. The three most frequently cited are: In 2006, the Labour government raised the possibility of relaxing prostitution laws and allowing small brothels in England and Wales.

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