Prostitution in Vienna in the nineteenth and the early twentieth century

Markian Prokopovych

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


Historical background Vienna, the Habsburg capital and a Catholic stronghold, has a long history of measures against prostitution which, apart from serving as a model for other regions of the Empire, were also strongly shaped by the imperial court and the clerical elite. The first systematic — though unsuccessful — attempts to eradicate prostitution date back to the late eighteenth century and the rule of Empress Maria Theresa. Emperor Joseph II abolished a number of historic public punishments for prostitutes such as public shaming, wearing of chains and the cutting of hair, but the majority of the earlier laws forbidding prostitution remained in force. Until the middle of the nineteenth century, prostitution remained within the juristiction of criminal law. The ministerial decree of 30 December 1850 requested the police not only to take prostitution into consideration, but also to tackle public health concerns that were connected to it. In 1873, the first comprehensive regulatory legislation was introduced and, consequently, prostitution became the prerogative of the morality police (Sittenpolizei). From that time onwards prostitutes were legally requested to register and undergo regular medical examinations. Practically until 1911, when the first attempts to reform the regulatory system were introduced, the general tendency had been to maintain strict control over registered prostitutes operating in brothels and other tolerated establishments and ruthless elimination of the illicit sex trade via police action, detention and expulsion. It took another 10 years until the prohibition of brothels was finally passed in 1921.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTrafficking in Women 1924-1926
Subtitle of host publicationThe Paul McKinsie Reports for the League of Nations
EditorsJean-Michele Chaumont, Magaly Rodriguez Garcia, Paul Servais
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherUnited Nations Publications
ISBN (Print)978-9210601559
Publication statusPublished - 19 Jul 2017

Publication series

NameUnited Nations Series 'History of the United Nations System'

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History


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