The Lady Garden

Tea and Strumpets

Protecting prostitutes in Ancient Rome

A fascinating snippet in a post at Skeptic Lawyer.

the Romans arrested men who made use of streetwalkers (they called their Johns ‘Marcus’, which I find hilarious), but this was not because prostitution was illegal, far from it — the Romans represent the epitome of the ‘legalise, regulate and tax’ model — but because they had strong views about what should and should not happen in public places. People who wanted to engage in prostitution or avail themselves of a prostitute had to do so inside a building, preferably under management. For some reason, only women were permitted to own and manage brothels — even gay brothels — and the rationale offered by the jurists was an explicit public safety one (women treated the prostitutes of either sex better, even when the latter were slaves). This legal quirk later passed into various iterations of the Code Napoléon.


One response to “Protecting prostitutes in Ancient Rome

  1. Hugh January 30, 2012 at 3:46 pm

    I wonder if the idea that women would treat the prostitutes better was based on actual evidence, or just stereotypes.

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