SOERTSZ A.J.—Toussaint v. Cecilia.
1935Present: Soertsz A.J.
TOUSSAINT v. CECILIA.
593—P. C. Gampola, 7,522.
Brothel—Meaning of term—House of ill-fame—Ordinance No. 5 of 1889, s. 1.
A brothel is a house of ill-fame to which men resort for purposes ofprostitution with women, who are to be found in the place or withwomen who resort to or are introduced to the house.
A PPEAL from a conviction by the Police Magistrate of Gampola.
C. E. S. Perera, for accused, appellant.
October 16, 1935. Soertsz A.J.—
The accused in this case was charged with having kept and managed abrothel in breach of section 1 of Ordinance No. 5 of 1889.
Several cases have been cited to me to support the proposition that “ asolitary instance of prostitution is insufficient to render a house a brothel ”.Quite apart from “ authority ”, it must indeed be so. Generally asolitary instance of prostitution in a house no more makes that house abrothel than one swallow makes a summer. But in certain cases, to usethe words in Stroud’s Judicial Dictionary, “ the one proved instance mayitself prove it to be, not a solitary, but one of many instances ”. That,in my opinion, is the case here.
The definition of “ brothel ” adopted in Stroud’s Judicial Dictionaryis that proposed by Wills J. in Singleton v. Ellison1 “ a place where peopleof opposite sexes are allowed to resort for prostitution ”. Stroud, enlargingon this, says “ a brothel involves the idea of a place of resort ” and saysthat brothels are places to which persons other than their occupiers go tofor having sexual intercourse with one another. Stroud suggests thatthis definition excludes the case of a woman who is the occupier of a house,or of several women who are joint occupiers receiving men for the purposeof having sexual intercourse with them in that house. It would appear
1 (1895) 1 Q. B. 607.
SOERTSZ AJ.—Toussaint v. Cecilia.
that there is no etymological justification for restricting the meaning ofthe word brothel in this manner. The Oxford Dictionary points outthat “ brothel ” originally was applied only to persons and meant “ aworthless, abandoned fellow ”, “ an abandoned woman, a prostitute ”and that the correct old word for a house of ill-fame was “ bordel Itgoes on to say that the personal sense of the word became obsolete andit now remains as a substitute for the original word “ bordel ThisDictionary defines “ brothel ” in the modem sense as “ a house of ill-fame,a bawdy house A “ bawdy-house ” is defined as a house of “ prosti-tution ”, and “ prostitution ” as “ the offering by a woman of her bodyto indiscriminate intercourse with men for hire ”,
In this view of the matter, it is not clear why Wills J.’s definition ofbrothel in Singleton v. Ellison (supra) as “ a brothel, or bawdy-house is aplace where people of opposite sexes are allowed to resort for prostitu-tion ” has been understood by the editors of Stroud’s Judicial Dictionary,in the sense I have referred to, that is to say, as “ involving the idea ofa place of resort ” and excluding the acts of prostitution on the part ofwomen who are occupiers or joint occupiers of the house in question. DeSampayo J. in Morris v. Comelis1 adopted that definition, but in thelater case of Wickremasuriya v. Mary Nona’ agreed with Schneider J.’sview in Silva v. Suppu', and in doing so commented as follows onSingleton v. Ellison (supra) : —“ The particular language of Singleton v.Ellison, which discusses the meaning of the word, appears to me to be dueto the peculiar circumstances of that case, for there a woman who usedto receive men into her rooms for the purpose of sexual intercourse withhereself alone was held not to be liable for ‘ keeping a brothel ’. The occu-pation of a house or room by a single prostitute may not constitute abrothel, but I do not myself see that the exigency of language or of lawrequires that, in order to make a house of ill-fame a brothel, women shouldresort to it from outside, and that it is not sufficient if prostitutes reside inthe house and men visit them for immoral purposes ”. In Silva v. Suppu(supra) Schneider J. said, “ If it were really necessary to define a brothelfor the purpose of our law, I should feel inclined to give that term ameaning consistent with local ideas and conditions. Here we have noimmoral women walking the streets picking up men and resorting to somehouses for the purpose of prostitution. I have always understood thecommonly accepted meaning of a brothel locally to be a house run bya man usually called a ‘ brothel-keeper ’ to which men resorted for purposesof ‘ prostitution ’ with women who were to be found in the house ”.
While respectfully agreeing with this definition I would add that it isnot only a definition which is good ‘ locally ’ and ‘ consistent with localideas and conditions ’ but really the correct definition of the Englishword, subject to two modifications. Instead of saying “ run by a manusually called a ‘ brothel-keeper ’ ”, I should say “ run by a person usuallycalled a brothel-keeper,” and instead of saying “ for the purposes of prostitu-tion with women who were to be found in the house ”, I should say “ for thepurpose of having sexual intercourse with women who were to be found inthe house or with women who resort to or are introduced into the house1 3 Bal. (N. C.) 48.2 24 N. L. R. 26.
» 21 N. L. R. 119.
SOERTSZ AJ.—Pandithan Chettiar v. Singha.pptiha.my.
Taking that to be the law, I think the facts in this case clearly bringthe accused within the reach of the section under which she was charged.No actual intercourse did take place on this occasion as the police cameon the scene. The two men concerned said if the police had not come,they would have had sexual intercourse. The evidence of these twowitnesses shows that they have been to this house on previous occasionsand have been supplied with women for sexual intercourse. Moreover, onthis day the manner in which the men knocked at the door and wereadmitted and all that took place indoors clearly showed that the placewas being kept and managed as a brothel. In the words in Stroud’sDictionary this instance by the way in which it occurred proves it to benot one solitary instance, but one of many.
In the circumstances, I think the conviction is right. I feel I ought toadd that there was no occasion for the Magistrate to throw bouquets tothe men concerned for their coming forward to give evidence in this‘ public-spirited and praiseworthy manner’, &c. They had been surprisedby the police and were making a virtue of necessity. As regards thesentence, I think it will be sufficient if the accused is sentenced to sixmonths’ rigorous imprisonment and to enter into a bond in a sum ofIts. 750 with one surety to be of good behaviour after the period of impri-sonment for a period of twelve months and in default of her doing so toundergo rigorous imprisonment for a further period of three months.
With this variation the appeal is dismissed.
TOUSSAINT v. CECILIA