A ‘Hotbed of Immorality’? World War One and Sexual Panic

Workhouse Tales

War generates change (both perceived and real) in sexual conduct, and at the beginning of the First World War, young women were accused of being carried away by ‘Khaki Fever’ which in turn drove campaigns to curb the behaviour of young, mainly working-class, women. Similarly, fears that soldiers and sailors would be in danger of contracting venereal diseases from an increased number of women working as prostitutes resulted in draconian military legislation on the female population. Curfews were enforced, anti-immorality associations were formed, and female police officers were introduced.

In Swansea, a Women’s Citizen Union with a membership of 120 was formed at a conference for the promotion of public morals which was convened by women’s groups and led by well-known philanthropists Lady Lyons and Lady Llewelyn. Public morality had always been of concern to many women’s groups in Swansea, Lady Llewelyn had instigated and chaired a Ladies’ Workhouse Visiting…

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