Prostitution is the act or practice of giving sexual pleasure and or engaging in intercourse for monetary goods.

Prostitution in the Victorian Era

  • Women needed/wanted money, so they provided pleasure
  • Men captured women, kept them in their house for pleasure
  • Poor women were not regarded in the Victorian society, could not fight back.

Incentive towards Prostitution

  • Differences in social classes led some women to being ignored and unacknowledged in society
  • For economic reasons and for the sexual pleasures of some men, prostitutes had no exit from prostitution

Prostitution In Victorian Society

  • Prostitutes beaten, tortured by those who considered it as an evil
  • Prostitution visible in Victorian Art and Literature
  • Victorian Literature: Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist, Henry Ashbee’s My Secret Life, Thomas Hardy’s the Ruined made


  • Most prostitutes lived on the “low streets” known for being unsanitary
  • Regarded as nuisances and trash, had no rights

Contagious Diseases Act

  • Created for protection of sailors and soldiers, whom were part of UK’s leading industries
  • Increase in venereal diseases amongst prostitutes, sailors and soldiers worried majority of UK
  • Women required to conduct regular checkups for diseases, kept at hospital until cured
  • Women seen around ports and army bases were arrested

Jack the Ripper

  • Name given to unknown serial killer, whose main targets were prostitutes
  • Brutally murdered them, took out their organs, and sent some organs as proof to higher authorities
  • Huge controversy in the Victorian era, people were scared of leaving their homes
  • Known for slitting throats of prostitutes and for removing internal organs, possibly had surgical knowledge
  • Was not caught although investigations were long and detailed
  • Committed a lot of murders, most famous were 7 Whitechapel murders, contained around 1200 prostitutes
  • Other sets of murders: Canonical Five and East End murders
  • Also Wrote the letter “From Hell”
Cite this article as: William Anderson (Schoolworkhelper Editorial Team), "Prostitution in the Victorian Era," in SchoolWorkHelper, 2019,

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