The British Army in India had a serious and enduring problem with venereal disease. At any given point across the nineteenth century, roughly 25% of its European troops were in hospital, with some form of what were known as 'vice'-related illnesses, the most frequently diagnosed of which was syphilis. 1868 the Contagious Diseases Act was introduced which aimed at the control of prostitutes and brothels. These efforts made considerable success, as between 1861 and 1873 the ratio. per 1,000 of strength fell from 369 to. 166. In 1870 the short service system was introduced and had an adverse effect as the number of new young soldiers being drafted into the country went up and marriage establishment went down considerably. This led to a very rapid rise in the venereal rate until it reached 389 per 1,000 in 1886. Between 1887 and 1890 questions were raised in Parliament regarding· the registration and recognition of prostitutes, which led to the Cantonment Act and the establishment of cantonment hospitals in 1890, when the venereal rate had risen to 503 per 1,000. These measures appeared to have a beneficial effect, as the rate dropped to 400 in 1891, but again rose during the following years until it reached the record figure of 522 in 1895. 1n the same year Act V was passed which practically swept away all regulations regarding the control of prostitution. The following year cantonment hospitals were replaced by follower’s hospitals and dispensaries but were re-established in 1899 with consequent control of prostitutes under the Cantonment Act. From 1899 onward until the outbreak of the Great War there was a very rapid decrease in the incidence of venereal diseases. During this time much greater interest was taken in the welfare of the soldiers.
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