series event

Punishing the prostitute and protecting the soldier: the Lal Bazaar, lock hospital and the treatment of venereal disease in colonial India

Dr Erica Wald

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.

In response to this, medical and commanding offers joined forces to construct a punitive treatment system which targeted the women seen to be the root cause of this problem – those Indian women deemed to be ‘common prostitutes’. However, the system continually failed to accomplish any of its aims.

This talk will explore the construction, operation and consequences of the ways in which syphilis was approached in the nineteenth century.


About the speaker

Dr Erica Wald is a Senior Lecturer in Modern History at Goldsmiths, University of London. She was awarded her PhD in 2009 from Trinity College, Cambridge. She has taught at both the LSE and Goldsmiths. Together with Professor Richard Grayson, she co-edits the British Journal of Military History.


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