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The Devil's ChainProstitution and Social Control in Partitioned Poland$
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Keely Stauter-Halsted

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780801454196

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801454196.001.0001

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Into the Abyss

Into the Abyss

The Turn to Paid Sex

(p.54) Chapter 2 Into the Abyss
The Devil's Chain

Keely Stauter-Halsted

Cornell University Press

This chapter examines contemporary mythologies about women's turn to prostitution. The classic nineteenth-century accounts characterized prostitutes as passive victims in their own fate. The virtuous young woman nurses her dying mother, toils without complaint at honest work, and then a single incident changes the course of her otherwise exemplary life. Prostitutes were portrayed as “unfortunate” girls who were “coerced” by “a pimp pretending to be a fiancé” or “seduced and raped…by so-called polite, educated men” and consequently “slid into the abyss” of prostitution. Torn from their rural support systems and lacking family resources, they were ignorant of the ways of the city, likely to trust strangers, and thus found themselves in compromised situations.

Keywords:   prostitution, prostitutes, family resources, support systems, compromised situations, passive victims, strangers

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