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This article focuses on prostitution on the Ottoman home front and the research for it draws upon secondary and primary sources. Stability and order on the home front constituted a vital condition for mobilization efforts in the Ottoman Empire. A number of measures issued by the Ottoman government during the First World War reveal that there was a need to take action against the destructive effects of war on the social tissue of society.
This article takes into account prostitution , which was among the primary issues on the Ottoman home front. In the first part of the article, wartime prostitution will be discussed using both secondary sources and archival documents. Together with a detailed analysis of Ottoman regulation on prostitution, this section attempts to present the tension between legal enforcement and the socioeconomic circumstances shaped by the war.
Archival sources are used to trace how court-martials were applied against prostitutes and procurers. Prostitution is a primary issue in many studies of the home front. Besides, the spread of venereal diseases among civilians and soldiers there were increased concerns about public health. In the Ottoman Empire, neither prostitution nor its regulation was particular to the war.
According to Rasim, social circumstances during the First World War paved the way for debauchery in Ottoman society and prostitution took on new forms that penetrated Muslim families. Ottoman non-Muslims and foreign passport holders in the Empire were considered to be the ones who dominated the sex trade.
However, only after the unilateral abolition of the Capitulations at the outbreak of the war was the Ottoman government able to finally issue a general regulation to control the brothels and prevent the so-called traffic in white women. One of the most remarkable attempts of the Ottoman wartime government was the declaration of a new regulation concerning prostitution during the First World War.