“But to really combat the problem requires the moral regeneration of society. Perhaps we should pretty much give up on rehabilitating the girls who have already become prostitutes; we won’t succeed anyway. We must concentrate on the generation that is now in kindergarten and first grade. We must see to their moral education. And for this we need a national program.”
Prostitution was a prominent issue within Soviet culture during the 1980’s. Although many Soviets were concerned with the immoral aspect of prostitution, a main problem regarding prostitution was the clientele. Soviet Russia in the 1980’s competed with foreigners, particularly the West, in almost every sphere, including prostitution. Many visitors to Russian prostitutes were those from other countries. Foreign-currency prostitution was a growing concern. In fact, foreign-currency prostitutes were some of the most successful considering they typically received higher pay than other prostitutes servicing members of Russian society. For example, the Current Digest states: “Foreign-currency prostitutes, the top group, charge the equivalent of 100 rubles or more, and sometimes make up to 1,500 rubles a night. Middle-level prostitutes make between 10 and 200 rubles, while the price for a train-station prostitute is about 10 rubles.”
To me, I found it incredibly ironic that the Russians, during the Cold War era, were having to compete with the West in almost of sector and prostitution was another area of Soviet culture that the Soviets had to compete with foreigners.
Unfortunately for the Russians, combatting foreign-currency prostitution, and prostitution in general, was increasingly difficult. This difficulty arose out of the cluelessness regarding how to deal with it. As stated before, some people believed that because it was an issue of morality, what was necessary to fix it was a moral regeneration of society that began at an early age. Others, however, wanted to take a financial route by placing fines on prostitutes. “Can you really stop these increasingly brazen women with a 100-ruble fine? When two Moscow prostitutes who had been involved in foreign-currency operations were arrested recently, nearly a half-million rubles in bonds alone were confiscated from them!”
Another option that was presented to the Soviets regarding potentially eliminating prostitutes was simply to arrest the prostitutes instead of fine them. Unfortunately, there was not much sound evidence that could hold a prostitute, or their lover, in jail. For example, “The prostitute goes on trial, but what about the client? What is he, merely a witness? And where do we draw the line between flirtation over an expensive dinner in a restaurant and love for sale, between the innocent encounter and the criminal act? Scores of prostitutes loiter outside Moscow’s hotels. They are carted off in busloads to a police station, scolded for violating the hotel’s regulations and then release, almost with apologies.”
The Soviets were certainly caught between a rock and a hard place. It seemed almost impossible to deal with prostitution considering no sort of punishment seemed plausible. However, prostitution put a new movement into motion. “Female sexuality first made its way into the press as criminality with the recently taboo subject of prostitution.” Whether taboo or not, prostitution opened many discussions regarding the rights of females over their own bodies. Furthermore, it prompted a conversation about female liberation.