The Medical Debate about Prostitution and Venereal Diseases in Yugoslavia (1918–1941)

Stefano Petrungaro; The Medical Debate about Prostitution and Venereal Diseases in Yugoslavia (1918–1941), Social History of Medicine, 2017https://doi.org/10.1093/shm/hkx023

Abstract

The article aims at illustrating the main features of the medical debate about prostitution and venereal diseases in the first Yugoslavia, and the role played by physicians in shaping prostitution policies in that country between the two world wars. The Yugoslav medical debate, while sharing many of the same arguments and characteristics with analogues debates in Europe and beyond, also reveals some peculiar aspects. These aspects were related to the Habsburg and Ottoman legacies, the phenomenon of Bosnian endemic syphilis, the establishment of the new Yugoslav state, and the South-East European context. This resulted firstly in a multifaceted debate, with internal discrepancies and a dynamic development during the time; secondly, in a relevant role played by physicians as policy consultants and even policy makers with marked eugenic tones, which were in full accordance with the social engineering and nation-building projects of the political elite of this newly founded state.

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