Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Lock Hospital at Mian Mir

Kenneth Ballhatchet, Race, Sex and Class Under the Raj: Imperial Attitudes and Policies and their Critics, 1793-1905. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1980.

Similar measures were instituted at Mian Mir in 1859. This was the important military cantonment near Lahore, the capital of the Punjab, which had proved of great strategic value during the Mutiny. Again a healthy army seemed especially necessary there. A lock hospital was opened; prostitutes were registered; they were inspected weekly, and they were issued with tickets on which the dates of their inspections were recorded. Soon encouraging statistics were reported: VD admissions fell from 27 per cent of strength in the twelve months before the syste began to 19 per cent in 1860. But the city of Lahore itself was not touched, in spite of the protests of the military authorities. (36)

After 1888, the Lock Hospitals and the Lal Bazaars were closed, leading many prostitutes to simply migrate to the open bazaars in the cities near where the cantonments were housed. However, many regiments continued the system off the books.

A similar disarray was revealed at Mian Mir [after the Lal Bazaar was formally shut down]. The Station Commander admitted that prostitutes lived in the regimental bazars and accompanied troops on the march. This was then denied by the commanding officers of the regiments concerned. Major-General Viscount Frankfort, commanding Lahore District, telegraphed for an explanation of these 'contradictions.' The Station Commander thereupon withdrew his statement on the ground that it was 'based on former customs, and not on actual facts at the time of reference.' It was becoming strangely difficult to establish precisely what was happening at any particular place and time. (72)

And then again, a little more:

Lieutenant-Colonel Macpherson, Cantonment Magistrate at Mian Mir, coolly asserted that 'there was no intention whatever of overlooking or disobeying any orders that had been passed: they were simply not thought of.' A hospital had been built: his assumption was that 'it would of course be worked on former lines.' Major-General Viscount Frankfort, commanding Lahore District, merely commented that Macpherson's reasoning was 'inexplicable.' (73)

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