Venereal hospital Soerabaija

The second Women’s hospital was built in Soerabaja in 1820. It experienced some repairs, but no inspection report could be traced in the years thereafter. It disappeared from the scene. In 1851, W. Bosch, head of the medical services, found 180 women with venereal diseases heaped up in far too small wards of the City Dressing Station. About the same time, it was reported that many prostitutes together with other sick but free civilians were nursed in prisons, whilst institutions for syphilitic prostitutes admitted patients with other diseases. The NI Government urged to abandon this practice and if possible (in view of the finances needed) to establish general hospitals for native people that could deliver the appropriate care in different departments.

Twelve hospitals for syphilitic women were counted in 1877 and by the end of the 19th century this number had increases to 24. The size of the problem was far bigger than the capacity of these institutions was able to provide. Moreover, much discussion took place about a more effective way of dealing with the consequences of prostitution.

Later in this century the policy of the NI authorities concerning syphilis became formulated in regeulations of   (averting the harmful consequences resulting from prostitution) and a larger budget became available in the fight against venereal diseases. These regulations followed the French system: registration of all prostitutes, compulsory examination, if necessary followed by treatment and the assembling of the women in brothels wherever possible. The regulations became operative in most residencies of Java and in some places in the Outer Provinces.
The effect of all these measures was questionable and so the 1852 regulation was withdrawn in 1874.
The combat against prostitution became a matter of ‘police regulations’ henceforth and entrusted to the local authorities.

The vast category of hospitals for syphilis closed due to a drastic change in medical policies. This occurred in 1911, when the Civil Medical Service executed the recommendations of the Reorganization Commission of 1906 relating to the inspection and care of patients with syphilis. The Commission based its conclusion on the fact that there was no evidence that the financial means used for the inspection and the compulsory hospitalization of prostitutes had achieved a positive effect.
Internationally this kind of regulations had already been condemned in 1877, when the Congress held at Geneva pronounced: “La Section d’Hygiène constate le complet insucces de tous les systèmes de police des moeurs ayant pour but de règlementer la pros-titution…” In 1908, la France abolished its legal regulations concerning prostitution and the NI Government followed these international developments by abolishing the medical examinations of prostitutes by physicians from 1 March 1911. Consequently, from this date all the hospitals for women with syphilis were closed.