HC Deb 15 March 1881 vol 259 cc1060-1

asked the Secretary of State for India, Whether he is aware that the Contagious Diseases Act was re-applied to Bombay early in 1880, in spite of strong objection expressed by a large number of influential Natives and Europeans, including the Bishop of Bombay; whether the Native Justices and Municipal Council of Bombay have not declined throughout to vote money towards the expenses of the working of the Act; whether the Government of Bombay have deducted the sum of 15,000 rupees from the grant of 90,000 rupees usually paid by the Government towards the expenses of the Bombay City Police, although that grant was long previously agreed upon, after full discussion between the Municipality and the Supreme and Local Governments; and, whether the Home Government approve of the forcing of the Acts in question upon a population so sensitive and peculiar as that of India in regard to the treatment of women?


I have received no formal information on this subject from the Government of Bombay; but their proceedings for last year contained references to it. I am aware that the Contagious Diseases Act was re-introduced last year in the city of Bombay, after having been dormant for some years, in consequence of the urgent representations of the military and medical authorities as to the prevalence of disease among the troops and the civil population. The measure excited some opposition; but I am not aware who were its principal opponents. The Municipality were called on to defray half the cost of working the Act, as they did when the Act was formerly in force. This they declined, expressing themselves as opposed to the Act; but offered to contribute 15,000 rupees a year towards the maintenance of lock hospitals. The Government then called on them to pay this sum of 15,000 rupees, promising to devote it exclusively to the maintenance of lock hospitals. This they declined, and the Government then ordered that amount to be retrenched from the usual contribution made by Government to the cost of the Bombay Police Force. In the absence of a complete statement of the reasons which have influenced the Go- vernment of Bombay in the matter, I am unable to say whether their action can be entirely approved by the Government; but I observe that careful precautions have been taken to confine the operation of the Act to the class of public women, and that the Act has been long in force in the other Presidency cities, Calcutta, and Madras. I will cause further inquiries to be made.