issue 252 - February 1994
Prostitution has always generated strange and hypocritical responses
from male-dominated society. As a result prostitutes, throughout history,
have found themselves in some bizarre situations...
Cartoons by ANGELA MARTIN
Prostitutes in Ancient Rome had their 'cells'
hidden away in the back of bakers' shops.
In medieval Europe, the Church often had
a controlling financial interest in brothels.
The sight of 'indiscreet' women would provoke uncontrolled verbal ejaculations in the fifteenth century English cleric, Bishop Aylmer. He proclaimed them: 'fond foolish wanton tattlers, triflers, wavering, witless, feeble, careless, rash, proud, tale-bearers, eavesdroppers, rumour-raisers, evil-tongued, worse-minded, and in every way doltified with the dregs of the devil's dunghill'.
Punters' precise preferences were revealed when the detailed price list from Charlotte Hayes' brothel was printed in a 1779 issue of Nocturnal Revels. She retired with a fortune of $20,000 - a millionaire by today's standards.
Brothels in Tibet were painted yellow to signify
transferred holiness after a Dalai Lama had visited.
The State of Nevada, US, has legalized brothels. But prostitutes are not allowed
to use certain shops, and must be chaperoned whenever they go out.
Self-acclaimed prostitutes and those with 'criminal' convictions are
still barred from entering certain so-called 'developed' countries.
Prostitutes, in all parts of the world and in all times,
have found themselves performing the role of therapist.
This feature was published in the February 1994 issue of New Internationalist. To read more,
buy this issue