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Social Purity Movement :: Crime, Scandal, Spectacle

Social Purity Movement


Image depicting the Social Purity Movement

A large part of the effect that the murders had on gender and class was the Social Purity Movement in London.  The Social Purity Movement occurred in the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century.  The movement, which consisted mainly of upper and middle class women, had the main objective of ridding London of social impurities and immoralities (Bristow 468).  This movement, combined with the backdrop of the Jack the Ripper murders, pegged moral middle and upper class women from the West End against the immoral working class women from the East End.  Even the government took action that reflected the views of the Social Purity Movement.  In 1886, the government passed the Contagious Diseases Act, which allowed police to incarcerate any prostitute that they thought could be spreading diseases (Haggard 201).  This act went along with the idea of the Social Purity Movement to rid the streets of prostitutes.  Also, in accordance with the movement, the government shut down a large number of brothels in the East End (Haggard 201).  While the government may have thought they were doing the right thing, the closing of these brothels actually sent more women into the streets.  Therefore, this could have made them more likely to be victims of Jack the Ripper than if there were within the brothel.

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