Brief History of Prostitution

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Brief history of prostitution
Note by the author This document owes a lot to Max Chaleil’s work. His book, ‘Le corps prostitué : le sexe dévorant’ is the main reference of this file. This historical summary will mainly concern France, even though there are a few comparisons with the situation of prostitution in other countries. 1. The Beginnings : Sexual hospitality and sacred prostitution It is not so sure that prostitution is the oldest trade in the world; the Europeans admitted to it during the colonial years. In some European societies, prostitution was associated with the notion of hospitality – various women of the house were offered to guests passing through. This custom used to exist in Chaldea, in India, in Egypt and throughout
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The prostitute bore a card, the licentia stupri and remained unworthy, despicable and deprived of any civil rights until her death. This registration system lasted about 600 years until the V century only to reappear in the XIX century. Foreigners and freed women were allowed to prostitute themselves freely. However, customs become so slack and the number of prostitutes increased to such a degree that authorities forbade certain female citizens to prostitute themselves. “Rome was then home to 35000 registered girls working in 46 official brothels, to which we should add the numerous illicit ones and all the male prostitutes. This represented a significant number when we take into account that the capital had only one million inhabitants.” 1 2..3 Attempts at abolition In 476 prostitution temporarily disappeared with the fall of the Western Roman Empire. In the Eastern Roman Empire, which lasted another thousand years, three Emperors attempted to abolish prostitution. In the IV century for the first time in history, Ethodose also fought against pimping. In the V century, Theodose sent into exile and down the mines the fathers and masters who prostituted their daughters and slaves. In the VI century, Justitian shut up brothels and cracked down on pimping; in his reign it was forbidden to receive a prostitute in one’s home or to hire oneself to a tenant. Justinian’s wife, Theodora, tried to establish houses to receive and
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