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Old 12-09-09, 12:30
Muggins in Sussex
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Default Prostitution in France - late 1920s

Is it possible for an English woman to have earned a good living as a prostitute in France in the late 1920s and early 1930s? This would have been in the resorts close to the Channel - Wimereuex, Le Touquet and Sangatte.
I think I have just answered the question in my head - it's just not the answer I wanted!

Does any one know whether this would have been a criminal offence? and if so, what the punishment would have been on conviction?

Thank you
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Old 12-09-09, 13:30
Olde Crone Olde Crone is offline
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Muggins

I don't know anything about the laws in France, either then or now, but prostitution covers a huge range of activities, and I expect if a woman was discreet, no one would care.

I believe brothels were certainly tolerated, if not actively encouraged and there must also have been many a Frenchwoman (and Englishwoman!) being kept in a very nice style by a rich admirer.

If you are talking about downright streetwalking, again I don't know the law, but the French have always been less concerned with sexual morals and took a far more practical approach than say the English.

OC
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Old 12-09-09, 13:35
Muggins in Sussex
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Thanks OC.. that is very helpful ...the English woman was my grandmother - and prostitution is, I now think, how she managed to maintain her life in France - and that of my mother
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Old 12-09-09, 14:07
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Georgette Georgette is offline
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I think that in the 19th and early 20th century the French felt that prostitution was a necessary evil. They had what they called a regulated system in place, whereby prostitution in brothels or in isolation was tolerated as long as there were medical checks. France had a more developed system of public health in the 19th century than Britain and visits to or by a doctor were required of prostitutes once a month, early on in the 19th century, increasing to weekly, at the end of the century, in an attempt to keep control of the spread of venereal diseases.

By the 1920s the abolitionist movement was growing, largely because the increase in venereal diseases showed that the regulated system was not working but also because there was a growing moral backlash. Attempts were made from the 1930s to close down brothels and to legislate against prostitution.
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Old 12-09-09, 14:29
Muggins in Sussex
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Thank you Georgette

That is very interesting - and has really made me think - LOL - and I presume the abolitionist movement would have started in Paris and other major cities, and taken some time to spread to the small towns along the Channel

I guess my mother may have had a somewhat unusual upbringing in northern France
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Old 12-09-09, 14:40
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Georgette Georgette is offline
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The regulation was in the hands of the local authorities so I suppose the opposition to prostitution may have depended on how much the locals felt that there was a threat to public order and health in their area. If, as OC suggested, she was more of a kept woman, then she would not have been worried by the regulations.
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Old 12-09-09, 14:53
Muggins in Sussex
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Thanks, Georgette...I think she was probably quite a poor woman in England, who went to France with my mother out of desparation....either to protect my mother from abduction, or to keep watch at the Channel Ports in case her other daughter, who had already been abducted (although possibly guardianship had already been legally granted to another) and taken to Germany, passed through.

I think she would have been desparate for money.

Hope that makes sense....sometimes I scarcely believe what I am saying myself...It all seems so far fetched and somehow remote
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Old 12-09-09, 16:34
Olde Crone Olde Crone is offline
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I am sure that prostitution would be tolerated in port cities and towns....probably impossible to prevent, so the authorities would largely turn a blind eye to a known red light district I would imagine.

However, I am concerned you are doing this poor woman a mis-service! There were many other ways she could have earned a living which didn't involve blatant prostitution or prosatitution in any form.

OC
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Old 12-09-09, 17:03
Muggins in Sussex
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Olde Crone View Post
I am sure that prostitution would be tolerated in port cities and towns....probably impossible to prevent, so the authorities would largely turn a blind eye to a known red light district I would imagine.

However, I am concerned you are doing this poor woman a mis-service! There were many other ways she could have earned a living which didn't involve blatant prostitution or prostitution in any form.

OC
Thanks OC -

However there is other evidence as well - including allegations (albeit unsubstantiated) in files I read at Kew - I need to try and think about this long and hard! (no pun intended!!!!)

Last edited by Muggins in Sussex; 12-09-09 at 17:06.
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Old 12-09-09, 17:41
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*flexes moderation finger*
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