Apparent acquiescence of European communities. -- Indications of scientific study and action, -- Opinion more homogenous than laws. -- Is prostitution in itself a vice or a crime? -- Its exploitation a crime.
DESPITE the evidence to the contrary produced at the close of the preceding chapter, the notion is prevalent that the conscience of Europe has been and is, to put it euphemistically, philosophic in its attitude towards this ancient evil; that on the Continent at least the "oldest of professions" is simply acquiesced in, on the theory that "what can not be cured must be endured." Certain external appearances seem to give countenance to this view: the prostitute walks the highway apparently unmolested; she waits in the café and music hall for her prey; in some cities the licensed bordell furnishes a notorious market for the buying and selling of sensual gratification. The situation, however, is less simple than thus appears. Society has never, as a matter of fact, for any great length of time contentedly accepted prostitution as an unavoidable evil. Periods of harsh and unintelligent repression have alternated with periods of comparative but never complete indifference, consequent upon previous failure. Recently much intelligent effort has been directed to the comprehension of the evil and of the phenomena contributing to and contingent upon it. An era of scientific study may be fairly said to