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Do Penance or PerishMagdalen Asylums in Ireland$
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Frances Finnegan

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780195174601

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195174601.001.0001

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“Patented Villains”

“Patented Villains”

Rescue Workers and the Penitentiary System

(p.6) 1 “Patented Villains”
Do Penance or Perish

Frances Finnegan

Oxford University Press

There were alarming estimates on prostitution in Britain throughout the nineteenth century. This chapter presents the history of the Female Penitentiary system in England from its beginnings in the 1750s. The issue of continued demand for prostitutes was barely confronted, so absorbed were moralists with the disgraceful and more visible evidence of supply. Thus, Rescue Workers insisted on individual moral (rather than radical social) reform. The Homes themselves had little impact on prostitution over the period. The term “patented villains” might, perhaps, more aptly be applied to those engaged in Rescue Work, than to the “loathsome sinners” they empowered themselves to save.

Keywords:   prostitutes, moralists, Rescue Workers, Female Penitentiary system, prostitution

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