Harriet Hicks & the Contagious Diseases Act

Harriet Hicks & The Contagious Diseases Act

Harriet Hicks is one of the few documented cases of harassment and abuse of women by the government. Harriet Hicks worked as a prostitute during inception of the Contagious Diseases Act (CDA) in 19th century England.

After an outbreak of syphilis in the military, the government decided against testing and treating the soldiers because it was proven to lower morale. Instead they opted to randomly test prostitutes and pretty much any other women who was out walking alone at night. Or during the day. Or early morning. Sometimes late afternoon.

Once corralled and assaulted with a speculum, a woman would either be deemed clean enough to return to her life or condemned a diseased whore and locked away in solitary confinement for an undetermined amount of time.