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Durham University

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Publication details for Dr Siobhán Hearne

Hearne, Siobhán (2018). To Denounce or Defend? Public Participation in the Policing of Prostitution in Late Imperial Russia. Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History 19(4): 717-744.

Author(s) from Durham


In August 1911, three men wrote to the Riga authorities denouncing a young peasant woman, Galiuta Rozovskaia, as a “clandestine prostitute” (tainaia prostitutka). They claimed that Rozovskaia had infected several men with venereal diseases and begged for her to be “brought under lawful governance” immediately.1 The “governance” cited was the Russian empire’s system for the regulation of prostitution (1843–1917), under which female prostitutes were required to register with the police and attend weekly gynecological examinations. Regulation rigidly defined prostitution as a transaction between a female prostitute and a male client. Like other official attempts to regulate prostitution in various European states and their colonies, the Russian system served to reinforce the “assumptions of a patriarchal and heteronormative society” while ignoring the well-established male sex trade of the late imperial period.2 Russia’s Ministry of the Interior implemented regulation with the official aim of preventing the spread of venereal diseases, yet additional rules for registered prostitutes targeted their movement, visibility, and behavior.