Legislation of prostitution meant total abolition, as prostitutes were considered victims of a system that exploits them, refuses any form of penalty thereof. In this it is opposed to prohibition. By extension, some abolitionist movements claimed the disappearance of prostitution. To achieve this goal, the neo-abolitionism proposes the criminalization of prostitution clients (called “johns” by some members of the current), considering the responsibility for the consequences of prostitution to be up to clients.
Students preparing the research papers on legalizing prostitution, should know that originally, the abolitionist movement, it was to oppose the regulation of prostitution, which imposed medical and police checks to prostitutes.
The regulation of prostitution, in fact, is to establish prostitution and formalize the pimping. As the abolitionist movement has identified that the most intolerable violence that accompany prostitution, such as:
- human trafficking,
- forced prostitution,
- child prostitution,
are related to procuring impunity, the goal was the prohibition of any form of exploitation of the prostitution of others.
Following the practical limits of abolitionism by the mere prohibition of pimping, and in contrast of the movement for a return of regulationism, some feminist movements of the 1990s claim the criminalization of clients of prostitution, whereas to actually eliminate prostitution, there must total disappearance of the buying behavior of a sexual intercourse. This latter form of abolitionism is sometimes called neo-abolitionism.
It would be anachronistic to speak of abolitionism before engaging Josephine Butler in 1870. However it is possible to identify in the history of societies, schools of thought or character whose attitude vis-à-vis prostitution was a form of abolitionism: condemnation of prostitution as contrary to human dignity system, refusal to penalize prostitutes and fight against the women trafficking in and/or pimping.
The prophet Hosea the eighth century BC condemned prostitution thrived in two Hebrew kingdoms. He compared prostitution to idolatry, giving a theological dimension to its elimination. However, he married a prostitute, Gomer. He did not blame her, but guests, priests, and leaders for her fornication.
Augustine of Hippo, the V century forbade his diocese to attend games where it was well known that prostitution took place. In the same sermon, he recalled the words of Jesus declaring that “prostitutes precede [the priests and elders of the temple] in the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 21,31) 5.
From 1542 to 1548, Ignatius of Loyola founded the Maison Sainte Marthe in Rome. The flourishing prostitution in Rome sixteenth century, for him it was a scandal. His detractors criticize him of wanting to “get rid” of prostitution in Rome. To do this, he opened a house where to enter, prostitutes must indicate their situation, especially if they are married or single. After a retreat preached by Ignatius, they may choose to return to their husbands, marry or become nuns.
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