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    Guide to the UN Convention of 2 December 1949 for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others.

    Marcovich M

    [Unpublished] [2002]. 36 p.

    The Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others was adopted by the United Nations on December 2, 1949, one year after the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in a climate of humanistic hope following the Second World War. The 1949 Convention was the result of an abolitionist and feminist struggle in England, begun and led by Josephine Butler in 1866. Whereas slavery had just been abolished in most of the European countries, Josephine Butler considered the system of prostitution to be a contemporary form of slavery that oppressed women and was injurious to humanity in general. The system of the regulation of prostitution, set up under Napoleon III in France, and soon called the “French system,” was established in many European countries in the name of public health and under the hygienist pretext of combating venereal diseases. French physician, Parent-Duchatelet, 19th century promoter of hygienism and regulation of prostitution, considered prostitution as a “sewerage system” and compared ejaculation to “organic drainage.” In reality, however, the regulationist system was based on a vision of society and human sexuality in which women were reduced to instruments of male pleasure. A vice squad was created to oversee the smooth working of the system. Not only could procurers and traffickers develop their operations with impunity, but the municipalities could also make money by levying taxes on the brothels. Women in prostitution were liable to violence, constraints, and health controls that were described as sexual tortures. Decrees against venereal diseases, particularly in England, permitted certain authorities to force women who were simply suspected of being prostitutes to undergo medical examinations, or even to be imprisoned. (excerpt)
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