By Diarmaid Ferriter
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Additional info for Occasions of Sin: Sex and Society in Modern Ireland
A six-month statutory time limit also meant that prosecutions were difficult if a girl’s visible pregnancy was the first evidence that a crime had occurred. Concern was expressed about the impact on child abuse cases of the rule that defendants could not be convicted on the basis of a child’s uncorroborated evidence. 129 The Irish feminist demands reflected an international challenge to the male sexual exploitation of women but, as elsewhere, it was also a challenge that went into decline; the intervention of sexology ‘reinforced the patriarchal model of sexuality by endowing it with scientific legitimation and subverted the further development of the feminist model of sexuality.
A concerted ‘rescue operation’ was also evident a few decades later when the Catholic Legion of Mary, established in Dublin in 1921, began to campaign for the closure of the brothels in the area known colloquially as Monto in the vicinity of Montgomery Street – then an extensive brothel and tenement quarter. indb 29 29/07/2009 14:39 30 OCCASIONS OF SIN founder, recalled his discovery of the prostitution issue in Dublin and his first visit to a brothel: For a moment, I did not realise where I was.
108 It has, however, been described as a ‘lasting monument’ to the efforts of reform groups, and a reflection of the impact made by popular journalist W. T. Stead, who had published articles in the Pall Mall Gazette depicting an epidemic of child prostitution. The Labouchère Amendment to that act, named after Henry Labouchère, the MP who introduced it, placed all homosexual practice outside the law by making it an offence for males to engage in acts of ‘gross indecency’ in public or private, irrespective of age (the offence of buggery had existed for several hundred years, though in theory it was a ‘gender neutral offence’109).