Fifth International Congress Against Prostitution

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The fifth international congress for the suppression of the white slave traffic recently ended in London.

Duchesses, countesses, bishops, priests, rabbis, police officials and all sorts of bourgeois philanthropists were well to the fore! How many festive luncheons and magnificent official receptions were given! And how many solemn speeches on the harm and infamy of prostitution!

What means of struggle were proposed by the elegant bourgeois delegates to the congress? Mainly two methods—religion and police. They are, it appears, the valid and reliable methods of combating prostitution. One English delegate boasted, according to the London correspondent of the Leipziger Volkszeitung,[1] that he had introduced a bill into parliament providing for corporal punishment for pimps. See the sort he is, this modern “civilised” hero of the struggle against prostitution!

One lady from Canada waxed enthusiastic over the police and the supervision of “fallen” women by policewomen, but as far as raising wages was concerned, she said that women workers did not deserve better pay.

One German pastor reviled present-day materialism, which, he said, is taking hold among the people and promoting the spread of free love.

When the Austrian delegate Gärtner tried to raise the question of the social causes of prostitution, of the need and poverty experienced by working-class families, of the exploitation of child labour, of unbearable housing conditions, etc., he was forced to silence by hostile shouts!

But the things that were said about highly-placed personages—among groups of delegates—were instructive and sublime. When, for example, the German Empress visits a maternity hospital in Berlin, rings are placed on the fingers of mothers of “illegitimate” children in order that this august individual may not be shocked by the sight of unmarried mothers!

We may judge from this the disgusting bourgeois hypocrisy that reigns at these aristocratic-bourgeois congresses. Acrobats in the field of philanthropy and police defenders of this system which makes mockery of poverty and need gather “to struggle against prostitution”, which is supported precisely by the aristocracy and the bourgeoisie....

  1. ↑ Leipziger Volkszeitung (Leipzig People’s Newspaper)—the organ of the Left wing of the German Social-Democratic Party, published daily from 1894 to 1933; for a Dumber of years it was edited by Franz Mehring and Rosa Luxemburg. From 1917 to 1922 it was the organ of the German “Independents”, and after 1922 it became the organ of the Right Social-Democrats.