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Journal of social hygiene (Volume 28) online

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' ' This program which could, in one generation, reduce both diseases to
very insignificant proportions has been fully demonstrated to be prac-
ticable and less costly in application than most of the brilliant conquests
of disease thus far recorded. For this war emergency and for future
efficiency, health and welfare of our nation, the public will provide for all
the parts of this program for social protection and eradication of the
venereal diseases, if community leaders request action."


Chairman, Executive Committee, American Social Hygiene Association


"War wakes its up to the vital importance of community
services. But we must not speculate on that. We must act."

Administrator, Federal Security Agency

In planning a comprehensive attack against syphilis and
gonorrhea as preparedness and war hazards, all parties to the
Federal Agreement of 1940 * fully recognized the dangers of
prostitution and related conditions and approved inclusion
of provisions to combat their influence in spreading the
venereal diseases among men and women and their families.
But it became evident that more specific national action and
legislation were needed to outlaw and smash effectively the
prostitution rackets that were springing up rapidly to exploit
the youth being concentrated in military training centers and
industrial areas, throughout the country. The proponents of
the Selective Service System had deemed it advisable to limit
their legislative proposal entirely to provisions for selecting
and arranging induction of the men required for military
duty. It was necessary, therefore, to ask Congress for sep-
arate legislation dealing with prostitution. The bill, H.R. 2475,
was passed and signed by the President July 11, 1941. Thus
the May Act, similar in purpose and provisions to its prede-
cessor of the first World War period, came into existence.

Under this law, the Secretaries of War and Navy are the
persons named to designate areas adjacent to Army and Navy
establishments within which areas prostitution becomes a
Federal offense. This provides the legal basis on which the
Department of Justice proceeds with criminal investigations
and prosecutions. In addition, the Secretaries of War and
Navy and the Federal Security Administrator are authorized

* See p. 31 for details of this Agreement of the Army, Navy, Federal Secur-
ity Agency, State Health Authorities, and participation of the American Social
Hygiene Association and other voluntary agencies.



and directed to take such steps as they deem necessary to
repress prostitution. Administrative plans and orders were
issued by the War Department * and the Navy Department *
governing their participation in utilizing this new legislation,
and the Federal Security Administrator, as Director of
Defense Health and Welfare Services assigned special duties
in this connection to the Social Protection Section.

One of the major objectives of this Social Protection Section is to
promote the enforcement of existing State laws and local regulations
against prostitution, by civilian authorities in all military and indus-
trial defense areas. But its director points out that the Section is by
no means limited to this task. It seeks, also, to prevent girls and young
women from being exposed to the lures and enticements of prostitution
traffickers; to secure supervision of places of commercial recreation
where girls may be in danger of being led into prostitution ; similarly,
to promote the elimination or at least the safeguarding of employment
where wages are inadequate to meet minimum requirements for food
and shelter, or where conditions afford opportunity to bring pressure
on girls to engage in prostitution ; and also to encourage every facility
for protection of men against being exploited and victimized by the
vice racketeers.

* See pp. 57 et seq. and p. 61 respectively for the text of these orders.

How Syphilis Spreads Through Prostitution

Cyfbreeli of syphilis infections in a rural county
Monroe County. Tennessee

Fmrfly *r Ho*.W Cwrtoch



Efforts are being made to help those already engaged in prostitution
back to ways of life which are constructive. This involves case work
and social treatment which now is largely lacking in many defense
area communities. The Section's field staff seeks the provision of ade-
quate facilities for treatment of women on an individualized and help-
ful basis, whether that treatment be (a) medical, (b) custodial,
(c) training, (d) placement in jobs, (e) supervision in family foster
homes, (f) assistance to return to their own homes, or (g) other

In its promotion of social protective measures and repression of
prostitution, the Section works largely through existing agencies via
observation, stimulation and coordination. Defining its status in rela-
tion to various agencies functioning in the social hygiene field, early
announcements indicated that:

1. The staff would not attempt to work with the man in uniform,
leaving his education with reference to social hygiene and the control
of his actions to the military and naval authorities.

2. While fully convinced of the importance of such positive action
as the provision of recreation and other leisure-time activities for the
soldier and sailor, these would be left to the military and naval author-
ities as supplemented by the Division of Recreation of this Agency, by
the United Service Organizations, and by many other interested
agencies and organizations.

3. Being vitally concerned that persons having venereal disease infec-
tions receive prompt and effective treatment to make them noninfec-
tious and to cure them, the staff would look to the U. S. Public Health
Service, the medical profession and allied agencies to do that job
for civilians.

4. In the field of law enforcement, the staff would depend primarily
on local authorities, the Military Police and Shore Patrol, and when
necessary the Federal Department of Justice.

5. In the care of apprehended prostitutes and in the protection of
girls and young women endangered by prostitution, dependence would
be placed on the facilities and resources of appropriate agencies of
local, State and Federal governments.

Expressing the hope that its basic policies may be welded perman-
ently into local self-government systems of the entire United States,
the Section believes that "It is the will and desire of the American
people to protect the health and morale of the men in its armed forces
and defense industries;" and the program is to be so planned and
executed "that it will be accepted by the States and become the
permanent policy of local government throughout the nation."

This new Section carries out its program for repression of prostitu-
tion mainly by assembling information, making analyses, and present-
ing reports to governors, mayors, prosecuting attorneys, and local
law-enforcement officials. In some places, prostitution has been tol-

SAFEGUARDS PLUS SALVAGB 43 what amounts to segregated areas by officials and the public
because that has been a traditional method of dealing with the
practice. Oftentimes, the law-enforcing officials, right down to the
last policeman on the beat, honestly believe that segregation is the best
method for dealing with this age-old problem. Then again, there are
other localities where graft and political corruption have come into
the picture, and prostitution is tolerated for pecuniary gain or for the
votes it may bring in. In all these states and communities, there are
responsible, civic-minded persons who, if properly informed regarding
the damage caused by prostitution, will work for its elimination. It is
by joining with other official and voluntary agencies in stimulating
to action and aiding this responsible group, that the Social Protection
Section makes one of its most important contributions.

The Section supplies its field staff with current reports regarding
venereal disease control and law-enforcement activities in all sections
of the country. Statistics and other data are secured from the Divi-
sion of Venereal Diseases of the United States Public Health Service,
the Army, the Navy, and from law enforcement officials and social
welfare services. The trained staff of investigators made available by
the American Social Hygiene Association serve as consultants and
upon request, furnish accurate undercover reports on commercialized
prostitution conditions throughout the country, particularly as they
affect military and war essential industrial concentrations of workers.
With this type of current data to supplement the information acquired
by their own activities, staff members of the Section are equipped
with factual data when they confer with state and local officials and
representatives of voluntary agencies.

One of the main difficulties encountered even after the local authori-
ties have become convinced that commercial prostitution is a grave
hazard, is the lack of trained social service and medical personnel,
and of adequate community facilities for use in medical and social
rehabilitation of girls and women who have been engaged in the
practice. In far too many instances, the community tries to cut the
Gordian knot by escorting prostitutes picked up by the police to the
borders of town and ordering them to "get out and stay out." In
many instances, these girls and women have had no trial and no
inquiry has been made into the circumstances of their cases. Often
they have no funds and they walk or hitch-hike to places where they
can find jobs, or if they are professional prostitutes, to some com-
munities where they have been told that prostitution is tolerated. The
Social Protection Section recognizes that such methods are both
anti-social and inefficient, and that they merely transfer the problems
of one locality to the shoulders of another. The inter-state aspects
of such transfers, and the voluntary migration of unprotected girls
and racketeers' shipment of prostitutes to centers of industrial, mili-
tary, and naval activity are of special concern to the Social Protection
Section and to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Then, too, there are communities which still consider commercial
prostitution an asset because it brings visitors with spending money


to the city and makes possible exorbitant rents and profits to those in
the vice ring. There are many influential citizens today who grew
up in towns where the "district" or "stockade" was pointed out to
inquiring visitors along with other recognized local attractions, good
and bad. They were told that both police and doctors endorsed
segregation and examination of prostitutes as a measure for health and
order. Most of us, with such a background of information, would
continue to hold that view if we had not been informed of the fallacy
of such methods of control and of the practical ways of correcting
these conditions. The creation of this new Section of the Federal
Government has aided materially in securing good results in many of
these localities, by persuading local officials to close up the districts
and agree to a policy of vigorous repression.

The laissez-faire attitude of many localities provides one of the
Section's strongest arguments. The fact that the conditions are local
and must in large measure be dealt with locally is constantly empha-
sized. Here are some of the reasons :

The individual case of syphilis or gonorrhea is local.

The activities of the individual prostitute or house of prostitution
are local.

The men and women of the community, the soldiers, sailors, and
industrial workers must be protected under local conditions.

The Federal Government can assist with plans, advice, and money ;
but nothing really effective happens unless it happens locally. The
State health and welfare departments, like the Federal agencies, can
help; but each town must have in good operating order facilities
for dealing with this problem, if permanent results are to be secured.
The total defense health and welfare services of every community
public, private, and voluntary are involved in solving the local prob-
lem, with the active leadership of the mayor, the city council, the
health and welfare directors, the police force and the citizens.

Because this Section is a new unit of Federal administration and
because the health and social welfare basis on which it operates is
new to many people although its activities were temporarily estab-
lished and thoroughly tested during the last war it seems worth while
to list some of the activities and community contacts of the field
representatives in charge of regional and local areas. They are
instructed to secure:

1. Factual data from State, local, public and private welfare agencies,
law enforcement officers, public health officials, and organized defense
councils or committees, relative to prostitution and venereal disease :

a. Prevalence of venereal diseases and prostitution in defense area;

b. Steps taken by State or local law enforcement bodies for control of
venereal disease and prostitution;

c. Concerted action that has been or may be taken by agencies, com-
mittees, or councils for supporting law enforcement;


d. Number of clinics, out-patient departments of hospitals providing
treatment for venereal diseases, and any data available as to probable
sources of infection.

2. Information regarding plans for detention and social treatment of
young girls and women charged with prostitution or suspected of or
found to be infected with venereal disease :

a. Ascertain number of public and private welfare agencies providing
temporary shelter for women held on charges of prostitution, or held
for health authorities for examination or treatment;

b. Ascertain detention facilities in city or county jails available for
detention of habitual prostitutes;

c. Ascertain from public and private welfare agencies the services
that may be given to first offenders, such services to include temporary
boarding home care, medical treatment, work opportunities, individual
case studies, transportation service for non-resident persons, and
planned recreation opportunities.

3. Information concerning control and supervision of employment
of young girls and women in cafes, taverns, "honky-tonks," and
places of commercial recreation :

a. Ascertain working conditions, hours, adherence to age limitations,
wages paid;

b. Ascertain, insofar as possible, whether girls or women employed in
such places are from local communities or are non-residents; if
non-residents, what type of board and room arrangements are available
to them, cost of such board and room, and approximate cost of
expenses incident to the employment. In the difference between wages
received and living costs, indicate necessity of supplementary wages
by legitimate or illegitimate means.

4. Suggestions of officials and individuals to be interviewed:

(1) Relative to venereal diseases and ing with opportunities for work;
prostitution: (a) state and local (d) voluntary social hygiene agen-
public health officials; (b) local C1 . es j < e > child welfare division
police departments; (c) police- of department of public welfare.

TUT- 5 (f) Ippfopriate Snse < 3 > ****** to -pervision and con-
) appropriate defense j f emplo y ment of wome n:

council committees or other local Woman's division of state in-

committees. dustrial commission; (b) U. S.

/o\ T> T i- i.- j j- i Employment Service women's di-

(2) Relative to detention and medical ^J^j ((j) YWCA and other

facilities: (a) public and private similar organizations; (d) Salva-

welfare agencies; (b) council of tion Army; (e) local committees

social agencies; (c) agencies deal- on housing.

5. Advice about methods of procedure :

a. Regional level:

(1) Study all available data on file in Regional Office relative to
defense areas;

(2) Study State laws pertaining to prostitution, venereal disease control,
women and children in industry, inspection of working conditions,
inspection of places of commercial recreation ;







Chart by courtesy of Public Affairs Committee from
the pamphlet Prostitution and the War by
Philip Broughton.


(3) Conferences with consultants of Federal agencies relative to pro-
grams and facilities that might have bearing on problems encoun-
tered by the Social Protection Section.

b. State or local level:

(1) Interview people at State or local level to learn extent of problem,
awareness on part of State or local groups as to the existence of
problems and as to community facilities available or required to
meet the problem;

(2) Interview welfare agencies relative to expanding existing programs
to meet needs as determined on basis of survey;

(3) Review of local, State, or Federal facilities that might be utilized
by local communities in meeting problem.

6. Information on which to base recommendations for field trips :

a. Review of vicinity situation on at least three aspects:

(1) Control of venereal disease and prostitution;

(2) Medical and social service treatment for young girls and women
arrested for prostitution;

(3) Method of supervision and control of employment of girls and

b. Review accumulated data and outline procedure to be followed in
assisting communities in meeting needs;

c. Similar review and analysis of conditions in other areas designated
by Regional Director as in need of assistance in such matters;

d. Ascertain from all defense areas in the region as rapidly as possible
without sacrifice of efficiency the problems existing and possible plans
and facilities for controlling or meeting them.

The public now generally understands that the announced policy
of the Government towards prostitution is one of repression, "to be
followed in safeguarding the health and morale of the armed forces
and the workers in essential defense industries ; ' ' and that the Social
Protection Section was established by the Director of Defense, Health
and Welfare Services to deal with the related social conditions which
inevitably develop in communities with a rapidly expanding popula-
tion or with a large concentration of single men. The resulting prob-
lems of vice, juvenile delinquency, protection of young girls and
women in legitimate or questionable industry obviously are matters
of immediate concern to this Section. With this understanding has
come public support for the threefold task:

(1) To secure energetic repression of commercialized prostitution
in areas readily accessible to Army camps, naval stations, and large
new concentrations of personnel for defense industry;

(2) To bring about such means and methods of care and treatment
of the women and girls arrested for prostitution that those who can
return to acceptable modes of life will receive the kind of help they
need, suited to their individual requirements, and that the others will
be dealt with in accordance with their needs and capacities; and


(3) To develop supervision and control of taverns, dance halls, and
other places to which young girls may be attracted for employment
or commercial recreation in such defense areas to minimize the extent
to which such girls are subjected to exploitation for purposes of

This brief summary of the Social Protection Section, like
the other summaries of Federal administrative units dealing
with various phases of the social hygiene program for war
and national welfare ought to be supplemented by examples
of work done and descriptions of community conditions call-
ing for action. Limits of space have precluded such illustra-
tions in this number of the JOURNAL OF SOCIAL HYGIENE.
There will be found, however, at the end of the series a few
summaries which are typical of situations presenting the
problems demanding united action by all the national, state,
and community forces both official and voluntary.

"We cannot afford human waste especially where it is most controllable,
namely in our civil population. Disease and physical deficiency are waste
of the most destructive kind.

"It may be that many of us are not yet aware of the extent to which
health is a prerequisite to successful work and to happiness. Perhaps
many of us have still to realize the importance of individual health main-
tenance as a patriotic obligation. Individual health is an asset and a
social contribution at all times. Now, more than ever, we owe its enhance-
ment to ourselves and our families, to the conservation of professional
resources, to the ultimate conquest of preventable disease, and to the
service of our nation at war.

"An understanding of the relation of individual health to national
vitality will help us to a conquest of indifference the deadliest disease
of all."


Third Vice-President,
Metropolitan Life Insurance Company

Soldiers and
types of young

back damaged both in morale and
health; and his visit may be followed

home-town boysjby a train of difficult problems which
perhaps your b(|will affect not only him but his civilian
ordinary Americjcompanions, and which may result in
they will go ba<jadded burdens of' expense for the
ties when theirjtaxpayer, who provides the funds to
is the aim of a| support venereal disease clinics, de-
them back healtjtention homes for delinquent girls,
in every way thar and police and court facilities to deal
and in this aim e\with sex and criminal offenses.

Within the


All these activities, both

good and bad, affect

civilian boys and girls as

well as the personnel of

the Army, the Navy and

Defense Industries

expansion of:

1 . Prophylactic facilities and stations

to reduce venereal disease

2. Diagnostic and treatment facili-

ties for these diseases

3. Care and control of delinquent


4. Police and court facilities to deal

with serious sex and criminal


1790 Broadway, New York, N. Y.

Drawings by Irvin E. Alleman


As acknowledged by the Editors, the Federal Departments, Agencies,
and other administrative units whose work is described here made
available a mass of reports, correspondence, orders, and statistical
data, all of which are informative and interesting, but for which
there is no space in this JOURNAL number. In an attempt to give
the readers an idea of this material, however, the following illustrative
notes and brief abstracts are included. These have been selected
partly to suggest poor, indifferent and good efforts for dealing with
the conditions described.



City A. Seaport town ten miles from the Station population mixed as to
nationalities, races, creeds, and color proud of its record as a convention city
proposals to change "attractions" resisted all houses of prostitution are known
to police and health officials who permit attempts to control and inspect them
semi-professional prostitutes frequent bars and cafes all over town except within
an area of three or four miles of the Station amateur sources account for
about the same proportion of the venereal diseases here as in other sections of
the country cases also develop from infection while on pass or furlough.

City B. Industrial city old discredited ideas of medical examination and
health certification of women prostitutes still prevail. The commercialized
prostitution problem is centered in thirty-six openly conducted brothels, twenty-
one of which are located in one area resembling a red-light district, and fifteen
scattered in various retail business sections. All prostitutes are photographed
and finger-printed. They are also examined weekly for venereal diseases by
private physicians who furnish them with "health cards." Members of the
vice squad make periodic inspection tours of the brothels, to see that each "girl"
has been to see her doctor. Hotels do not harbor prostitutes; neither do
"hustlers" frequent beer- joints nor solicit along the streets. Employees in

Online LibraryAmerican Social Hygiene AssociationJournal of social hygiene (Volume 28) → online text (page 7 of 71)