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Contagious Diseases Acts in England: 1864

Feminists sought to reclaim the victims and to protect other womenespecially young working girls, who were especially vulnerable to male seduction. After the Civil War, feminists joined with moral reformers in the social-purity movement. Their shared goal was to regulate and control male sexual aggression with laws and social services. States began to enact laws to punish men who seduced women. Most states raised the age of sexual consent from age 10 to age 16, and even as high as age 18. Any person having sexual relations with a girl under the age of consent could be charged with rape, that is, statutory rape. By 1900, the social-purity allies had launched a national campaign to suppress prostitution (Hobson 1987; Pivar 1973; Connolly 1980). They had gained control of the debate and the definition of the issue from those who supported regulation. Over the next decades, prostitution itself would become criminalized.