Precept and Practice


The paternal care of the authorities for the, morals of their white slaves reaches its culmination in the following exordium to telephone girls.

“Under the title of ‘Forewarned is Forearmed’ the girls are warned that they should never speak to strangers, either men or women, in. the street, in shops, in stations, in trains, in lonely country roads, or in places of amusement, and should never ask the way of any but officials on duty, such as policemen, railway officials, or postmen, or loiter or stand about alone in the street, and if accosted by a stranger (whether man or woman) should walk as quickly as possible to the nearest policeman. The pamphlet states that a girl should never stay to help a woman who apparently faints at her feet in the street, but should immediately call a policeman to her aid.
“They are advised never to accept an invitation to join a Sunday School or Bible Class given them by strangers, even if they are wearing the dress of a sister or a nun, or are in clerical dress, and are emphatically warned never to accept a ‘lift’ offered by a stranger, in a motor, or taxi-cab, or vehicle of any description, and never to go to an address given them by a stranger, or enter any house, restaurant, or place of amusement, on the invitation of a stranger.
“Girls, the pamphlet states, should never accept sweets, food, a glass of water, or smell flowers offered them by a stranger; neither should they buy scents or other articles at the door, as so many things may contain drugs. They are also warned against taking situations, either in England or abroad, through advertisement or a strange registry office, without first making exhaustive enquiries, and against going to London or any large town for even one night without knowing of some safe lodging.” (“Reynolds’s,” 5.1.13.)

Above all, beware of Sunday Schools and Bible Classes !

Poor girls ! they scarcely dare breathe. No wonder some of them scent chloroform in the flutter of a handkerchief from the other side of the street, and see an attempted abduction in every admiring glance or casual greeting, sending the police on wild goose chases that end only in increased respect for the imaginative powers of the “victims.”

But in face of the terrible dangers that beset the innocent girls at every street corner, what is the administration’s attitude ? The following from “The Star” of Feb. 13 indicates that it did not mind throwing young girls upon the streets late at night when it suited the purpose of its own exploitation of wage-slaves to do so. Perpend !


“Mr. Bowerman asked the Postmaster-General whether he was aware that female operators under 17 years of age are employed at the Gerrard telephone exchange until 10 p.m., and in many cases after the completion of their duty are compelled to travel across London up to a late hour to reach their homes.
“Mr. Herbert Samuel said he regretted to find that the facts were as stated in the question, and he was obliged to the hon. member for drawing his attention to an administrative error at this exchange. Instructions had been given that girls under the age of 18 should not be employed in London telephone exchanges later than 8.15 p.m.”

Perhaps ! But the Government’s profession of concern for the welfare of the girls it exploits is shown to be the sheerest hypocrisy by the following excerpt from the “Daily Chronicle” of 22.1.13.


“A system of ‘spying’ alleged to have been adopted by the Post Office to test the work of telephone operators was described yesterday by Miss Bowse, a Manchester telephonist, to the Select Committee of the House of Comrtoris en Employment in the Post Office.

“There was a separate staff, she said, not allowed to mix with the general staff, who from another part of the building could watch every movement of an operator, timing the exact number of moments occupied by each movement, and thus gauging whether seconds were wasted. A complete record was kept, the operator not knowing she was under observation. She was prohibited in indulging in private conversation, and the supervisors saw to it that the regulalation was not broken.”

Such intense exploitation and deadly monotony is the surest generator of an unhealthy craving for excitement after working hours—and the capitalists’ only remedy is—an idiotic circular !


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