From the history of prostitution
Because of naïveté or an accident, deception or aspiration for the better life and a desire to earn money, sometimes because of the fashionable stories about free love many young girls become the objects of buying and selling – the ancient kind of business, the means of earning money.
Prostitution existed at all times. Latin word “prostare” means “to sell oneself in public”. The word prostitute came from this word. Solon (between 640-630 – about 559 BC) is considered to be the first “organizer” of such business, who bought and sold prostitutes in general use. Solon was the first, in whose laws prostitution tax appeared. By the way, according to his laws a wife, who was unfaithful to her husband, could be killed by him. Solon was also a founder of state brothels.
At the times of Egyptian Pharaohs prostitutes were called “hump”. They were recruited from dancers and musicians to allure men in brothels by means of singing and dancing.
Ancient brothels were situated on the outskirts, desert and distant places, near the market or harbour. Hetaeras (the highest category in prostitution) lived in the meeting houses. Frina from Athens is considered to be one of the most ancient hetaeras. It is known that she reached a great age and restored the walls around Thiva (the ancient town), which were destroyed by Alexander, at her expense.
Roman law brought the differences between the categories of women out of marriage. Prostitutes, who served different men in public and secretly, were ascribed to the lowest category. A concubine – beloved woman of a married man – took more “honorary” place. A concubine, who lived with unmarried man without official registration, was honoured equally with a wife. Roman prostitute Flora bequeathed her fortune to people. A holiday of flowers, which was celebrated from the 28th of April to the 1st of May, was devoted to Flore. During those days many naked prostitutes danced before people.
In the Middle Ages the series of prostitutes were replenished by traders selling people. I. Bloh wrote in his book “The History of Prostitution” that in Germany young women had been placed in brothels by their consent because of the debts of their husbands or parents. The medieval brothels were under the authority of the state, city or Prince. Ecclesiastics and married men weren’t allowed to visit those houses. There was a terrible punishment for involving a new girl in such business – branding, cutting off the nose, ears, hands, legs and even execution. There were also some special houses for repenting prostitutes, sometimes they were placed at monasteries. In 1198 the Pope Innokenty III declared that those men, who married to prostitutes, were given absolution. But it was too rare that prostitutes married. Even if it happened, they weren’t allowed to associate with “honoured” women.
Brothels were situated in special streets. All of them had distinctive emblems and signs: motley bars, flower and animalistic depictions on the walls and doors, a lantern over the door. A prostitute also wore distinctive signs. Moreover, a sick woman, a pregnant or married woman or a girl, who was too young, couldn’t become a prostitute.
Syphilis, which appeared in Europe at the end of the 15th century, became a blow for the society.
At all times “army girls” belonged to the special category of prostitutes. Fuks wrote in his work that there were about 4000 prostitutes in the army of Karl the Brave. They took care of soldiers and wounded people.
Since the 18th century prostitutes were registered and put under the police and medical supervision. If a prostitute left the brothel, she was caught and returned by police.
Empress Elizaveta Petrovna ordered to “find and catch” prostitutes both Russian and foreign.
According to the edict, which was issued by Pavel I in 1800, all prostitutes, who were caught in both capitals (in Moscow and St. Petersburg) must be relegated to Siberia – to the Irkutsk factories.
M. Kuznetsov wrote in his book “The History of Prostitution in Russia” (1871) why women became prostitutes: “Women without family, homeless and without any possibility for subsistence… Women, who were deceived by their beloved men… become prostitutes. The majority of women make the first step under the influence of a procuress. Coming to unknown capitals, inexperienced women trustingly rely on procuresses, who give them a flat and a work, and then… sell…”
In the 19th century the distinctive signs of the prostitute’s costume were canceled, but their manners and defiant gestures still betrayed them. Newspapers contained a lot of marriage advertisements about experienced in love women. A new category of prostitutes even appeared – hotel girls.
Some addresses of brothels are mentioned in the book of M. Kuznetsov: “In St. Petersburg on Sennaya square, houses of Deroberti, Lermontov, Vyazemsky, well-known “Malinnik” (“malina” means “a sweet berry”), was full of brothels; Shcherbakov lane… in Moscow – Derbenovka, Drachevka streets, Sobolev, Pil’nikov and Kolosov lanes, in Voronegh – Yamskaya, Ostroghny bugor, Shchemilovka street…”
Professor N. M. Shchapov writes in his book “I Believe in Russia. Family History and Memories” (Publishing House of the association “Mosgorarhiv”, 1998) that there was a special region with brothels in Moscow. A brothel was called “bardak” there. It was Drachevka street (nowadays, it is called Trubnaya street) and the nearest lanes between Drachevka and Sretenka streets… Shchapov also describes in his book how he visited one of those brothels.
Prostitution reached our days: from the Stone Age to the 3rd millennium. But it is not a profession today because it exists out of law.
Technologies of modern prostitution have also changed. A great amount of “sex-services” are supplemented with blackmail, candid and other attributes of criminal interests. But the essence of the manner is the same: “money – body – money”. There is a brisk trade today (business is business), in which the main commodity is girls, who lose their health, become unable to have children, ruin themselves by drinking. This trade is an out of law trade without any certificate, with a commodity, which provokes the rise of social, psychological and medical problems.
Picture by Natal'ya Skalkina