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Anna Haslam in Dublin and Isabella Tod in Belfast, both of the Ladies National Association, organised opposition and a recognition not only of the plight of these women but also of the root causes.
Emerging nationalism tended to see prostitution and venereal disease as legacies of colonialism that could be resolved through independence.
In the 1950s there was much public attention around the plight of Irish women working as prostitutes in England.These provided shelter but in return expected menial labour and penitence.The changing nature of Irish society following the 1801 Act of Union saw a redefining of the status of women, with an idealisation of nuns at one extreme and a marginalisation of prostitutes at the other.Prostitution was both highly visible and pervasive in 18th-century Dublin, centred on Temple Bar and reflected the whole spectrum of socioeconomic class, from street prostitutes, through organised brothels to high class courtesans, who were often illegitimate daughters of the upper class. The role of the prostitute in 18th-century Ireland was at least partly a product of the double standard of female sexuality.Typical of this was the way that venereal disease was constructed as being spread by prostitutes rather than their largely male clients.
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Pimping was almost unheard of, as were the other crimes previously associated with prostitution.