Syphilis epidemic struck Ireland in the 1930s new survey shows
Despite the image of Ireland being chaste and extra marital sex free in the 1930s, there was actually a major syphilis epidemic during those years a historian has found.
It was located n Dublin and during its height 40,000 people attended Dublin hospitals for sexually transmitted diseases.
In the 1930s the historian. Padraig Yeates has also discovered there were over 3,000 prostitutes working in Dublin which he believes was the source of much of the infection.
Yeates told the Irish Examiner "In the 1920s and 1930s in Ireland, lots of people lost their jobs in the Great Depression. Prostitution was a major survival strategy for women and had been as far back as we can think, so STIs began to rise — 1935 was the peak year. "Most of the treatments were mercury-based and people’s teeth and hair would fall out, so sometimes the treatment was worse than the disease itself. It was a huge public health problem, which tended to be covered up. It was illicit so people did not talk about it — it did not exist."
Special treatment units were opened to take care of the sufferers.
His research also showed that women at the time were just as likely to be arrested for riotous behavior.
Old Dublin Metropolitan Police arrest records for drunk and disorderly offences paint a picture of rough, tough, bawdy women.
In 1916 for instance, 392 women were arrested for being drunk and disorderly as opposed to 169 men.
A pattern that continued up until the 1930’s:"The figures suggest that there was some truth — in Dublin at least — in the old maxim that when it came to drink ‘the women were worse than the men’," added Yeates.
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