Thursday, February 7, 2013

British Suffragettes

The Contagious Disease Act of 1864 (revised in 1866 and again in 1869) gave police sweepings powers to arrest women suspected of prostitution without further provocation. A woman arrested for this crime was given a thorough (re: invasive, brutal) exam; failing the exam could net her a lengthy stay in a "Lock Hospital," sometimes as long as a year. Of course the police abused this power to arrest women en masse with impunity, one of many reasons activists like Josephine Butler took up the cause of getting the law repealed.

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