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White Slaves to “Hard Girls”, Increasing Criminalisation and its Consequences 1885-1960

26th September 2018 · 7:00pm - 8:30pm

In person | Virtual event

 White Slaves to “Hard Girls”, Increasing Criminalisation and its Consequences 1885-1960


We sincerely apologise for any inconvenience this may have caused and are issuing full refunds.

This has not affected the last two talks in the Prostitution, Pimping and Trafficking series, which you can still purchase tickets for.


This talk by Dr Julia Laite is fourth in the series Prostitution, Pimping and Trafficking, curated by Deborah Lavin.

This talk will explore why and how prostitution was increasingly criminalised in Britain in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, and pay particular attention to the way that laws, morally and ideologically conceived, filtered down to the complicated reality of policing commercial sex on the streets of London. The talk will also explore the consequences of this drive to criminalise various aspects of commercial sex, including the relationship between criminalisation and pimping/trafficking. Most of all it will consider the impact of criminalisation on women who sold sex, and upon the nature of the commercial sex industry between 1885 and 1960, when the Street Offences Act came into effect. Finally, it will ask: what can a study of the history of criminalising prostitution tell us about present day proposals and debates.

Dr Julia Laite is a Senior Lecturer in Modern History at Birkbeck, University of London, and her research interests include the social and cultural history of modern Britain, the history of sexuality, and migration history. Her book, Common Prostitutes and Ordinary Citizens: Commercial Sex in London,1885-1960 (Palgrave, 2011) explores the complex and uneven criminalisation of prostitution in the metropolis and its impact upon the commercial sex industry and the women who sold sex. Her next book will tell the story of one case of sex trafficking in the early twentieth century.

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