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Prostitution as a Social Phenomenon in the Second Polish Republic (1918–1939)


[ 1 ] Katedra Historii i Teorii Prawa, Instytut Prawa, Akademia Sztuki Wojennej | [ P ] employee

Scientific discipline (Law 2.0)

[5.7] Law

Year of publication


Chapter type

chapter in monograph

Publication language


  • Law
  • Legislation
  • History of law
  • Prostitution

EN Prostitution is a global, unresolved social problem.1 As a pathological phenomenon, it blends into the history of all nations, including Poland. Prostitution occurs in every culture and is constantly condemned. It causes not only social, but also psychological consequences.2 It causes mental degradation of those practicing it, leads to various disorders in the sphere of personality, and destroys human relationships,3 degrades them to the role of an object and takes away dignity. Prostitution is also a criminal phenomenon, often linked to criminal environments. This is where prostitution, trafficking in women, and pornography arise. Prostitution has long been the focus of various scientific disciplines. Anthropology - which provides ethnographic semantic pictures regarding street prostitution as a subculture, examines the manifestations of life associated with this phenomenon. Sociology - which describes prostitution as a deviant subculture and explores the relationship between society and prostitution. Ethics - for which the negative moral assessment of prostitution is not a subject of discussion. Criminology - which deals with inter alia manifestations and causes of pathological phenomena. Psychology - for which this phenomenon is one of the manifestations of social pathology, and the main criteria for classifying prostitution as a deviant behavior are its linkages with crime, alcohol and drug abuse, and low self-esteem. Kazimierz Imieliński in his work entitled Manowce seksu. Prostytucja noted that the changes taking place in terms of the concept of prostitution, as well as in prostitution itself, could be understood only against the background of the analysis of all transformations taking place in societies (concerning political, political, economic, as well as class structures). Although prostitution has many forms, there no uniform definition of this phenomenon has been presented in literature to this day.5 Every researcher involved in this matter tries to redefine it. Also, the terminology relating to prostitution has been always very rich. It captures the great diversity of the world of prostitution: on the one hand, courtesans,6 on the other, sex workers of the lowest categories in brothels and those working on the street are the extremes, between which were enormous numbers of “fallen women”. The term prostitution is translated as gainful sexual intercourse with casual partners.7 The word “prostitute” comes from Latin. It is made up of two elements: pro, which means before, and statuere, that is, exhibit. It means as much as “put in view”, “put in the front”. Thus, prostitution initially probably meant only as much as “to put oneself to intercourse” or “have sex without a special choice of partner” (and therefore did not mean having sex in exchange for money at the same time). It was only over time that it became so important, and it moved to the popular language. In everyday use, the terms “prostitution” and “prostitute” appeared only at the end of the 18th century.8 At the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, prostitution was scientifically defined.9 In Poland, the equivalent of the word “prostitution” was the word “fornication”, which meant all extra-marital sexual intercourse.

Pages (from - to)

187 - 198


Person, nation, state. Intredisciplinary reserch in security studies

Ministry points / chapter