In the late nineteenth century, highly contentious debates about prostitution were central to broader questions about women’s status within society, including their rights to property, entitlement to suffrage, and claims over their own bodies. Political scandals such as those over the 1860s Contagious Diseases Acts (which criminalized sex workers, not their customers) and the 1885 Maiden Tribute of Modern Babylon (which was the first exposé of child prostitution in the UK) not only reveal attitudes towards the commercialization of the body but have left a legacy that we live with today.
A lecture by Joanna Bourke
The transcript and downloadable versions of the lecture are available from the Gresham College website:
Gresham College has been giving free public lectures since 1597. This tradition continues today with all of our five or so public lectures a week being made available for free download from our website. There are currently over 2,000 lectures free to access or download from the website.