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Seychelles (Venereal Disease)

Volume 389: debated on Wednesday 26 May 1943

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asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies why it has been made a criminal offence for any unmarried woman under 30 years of age to live in the town of Seychelles, unless she is living with her parents or employer, or is a properly appointed school-teacher or probationary nurse?

A Defence Order was made to prevent the renting of rooms in houses in the central and suburban districts of Mahé for immoral purposes, in view of the serious danger of spreading disease among the personnel of visiting ships and troops stationed in the Island. In addition to the exceptions referred to by my hon. Friend, the Order does not apply to any young woman who satisfies the Superintendent of Police that she is in bona fide employment, either on her own behalf or for monthly wages, or has any other good reason to stay in any house or room in the prescribed area.

Does not the Minister consider this is a very gross infringement of the rights of these people? It would not be tolerated for a minute in this country. Would it not be better to take steps to eliminate the venereal disease which is so current in Seychelles?

That would be desirable anyhow, but the position in Seychelles was really grave, and drastic steps had to be taken. I admit that this step is a drastic one, but I believe that in the circumstances it was fully justified.

Could not we adopt different medical methods for safeguarding the population there from this complaint?