Societal Views on Prostitution
Contagious Diseases Acts & Middle Class Campaign
Why Victorian Women Became Prostitutes


Poor social conditions for many women in the Victorian period caused many young teenagers and women to turn towards prostitution as a means of survival. Research on prostitution expanded and developed throughout the nineteenth century. Dr. William Sanger, one of the foremost researchers on prostitution during this period, is still highly esteemed due to his work's accuracy and depth. Sanger examined the identity of the average prostitute and sought to understand why prostitutes became prostitutes. He found that the majority of prostitutes were in their late teens or early twenties and were usually illiterate, poor, and from broken families. Economic poverty, societal disgrace and a lack of education were also found as causes for the girls' turn towards prostitution. Some women had either been expelled from their homes or deserted by their parents and found prostitution to be the only way to support themselves. Other girls were forced into prostitution in order to help their families to survive. Still other girls, who had worked as domestics or servants, were forced into prostitution because their masters had seduced them, before being abandoned. However, a number of women turned to prostitution simply because they saw it as an escape from typical professions. Immigrant women who had arrived to the country without money or were forcibly immigrated had only prostitution to turn to in order to support themselves. Regardless of circumstance, many of the girls only expected to prostitute themselves until something better became available.


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