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History 1

By Luis Puig

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She had twice bitten the child sitting next to her in class, until she had drawn blood. She had flung, in a spasm of rage, her own pet kitten on the fire. She had waylaid younger children on errands for their mothers, and had terrified them till they handed over the coins intended for the shopman. 51 Irene had a violent history: In the infants’ department she was known for a little spitfire; and tales were still remembered, telling how she had pinched, and 36 Gender, Justice and Welfare pushed about, and on occasion even stabbed, the other children.

Cut down to a few coppers’. She started stealing money from her more affluent schoolmates, which she spent first on ‘school requisites’ and then on ‘her former little luxuries’. In a very similar case, Edith, 13, stole as a means of keeping up with her richer school friends, ‘desperately desirous to make as fine a show as they did, in matters of dress, pocket-money, and out-of-school amusement’. 38 Other contemporary accounts suggest that a number of young women were involved in sophisticated urban criminal networks.

67 Metropolitan policewoman Lilian Wyles suggested that a number of the sexual abuse cases she dealt with in the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s were bound up with child prostitution. She describes one war-time case involving a ‘pretty, well-built’ ten-year-old girl who ‘had discovered that she should earn money by hanging around the back doors of public-houses and accosting half-drunk men as they came out’ and ‘had marked down a disused air-raid shelter to which she would take these men who she had invited to assault her’.

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Historias de al-Khwarizmi (1a entrega) by Luis Puig

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