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Durham University

Research & business

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Publication details for Dr Siobhán Hearne

Hearne, Siobhán (2019). Prosecuting Procurement in the Russian Empire. Journal of Social History

Author(s) from Durham

Abstract

Concern about the issue of forced prostitution reached its height in the Russian empire (as elsewhere in Europe and the Americas) at the turn of the twentieth century, as part of the wider international “white slave” panic. In 1909, new antiprocurement statutes were incorporated into the Russian empire’s Criminal Code to ensure that those who forced, coerced, or encouraged young women to enter the commercial sex industry felt the full force of the law. This article uses a case study of the Russian empire’s Estonian provinces (Estliand and Lifliand) to highlight the regional nature of Russian imperial experience. Prosecuting procurement was aligned with the priorities of local government, and the authorities in Revel’ (Tallinn) and Iu’rev (Tartu) used the issue of procurement to bolster their revenue. Here, the statutes gave the authorities additional tools for targeting individuals, such as managers of unlicensed brothels, who deprived the government of the income it generated from regulating the commercial sex industry. Drawing on court cases from the early 1910s, this article also examines the interaction of lower-class people with the state, their engagement with the legal system, their knowledge of the law, and the rhetorical strategies they employed to in their attempts to secure specific outcomes.