Conducts research and collects data on the global history of labour, workers, and labour relations

Today in Labour History

17 September 1877
Josephine Butler

Great Social Evil

On 17 September 1877 the first international congress of the International Abolitionist Federation took place in Geneva. The Federation campaigned against state regulation of prostitution and the traffic in women and children. In the 19th century, prostitution was dubbed 'the great social evil'. In those days, the situation on the countryside in many countries was so precarious that migration to the town seemed a better option, even to women who knew full well that they would be working as prostitutes. In many cases, trafficking was only supplementary to the much larger migration flows of women who knew where they were headed. They intendedly migrated in search for better prostitution markets. For most women, working in commercial sex was the only viable way to earn a good income.

Lex Heerma van Voss,  'The Worst Class of Workers: Migration, Labor Relations and Living Strategies of Prostitutes around 1900' in: Working on Labor (2012) 153-170.

More info: Working on Labor (IISH Publication), Selling Sex in the City (IISH Research Project)