Justice for Magdalene Laundries Victims and Survivors

Today, April 6, 2018, marks an important day for Ireland and its citizens, and most especially for the survivors of and victims who lost their lives from the Magdalene Laundries, or Magdalene Asylums. While the past cannot be rewritten, today's official acknowledgment - and apology - of the atrocities that occurred within and around the walls of these institutions can be seen as a positive shift with regards to this very dark spot in Ireland's history.

photos: News Dog Media

About the Magdalene Laundries

Magdalene laundries, also known as Magdalene's asylums, were institutions from the 18th to the late 20th centuries ostensibly to house "fallen women", a term used to imply female sexual promiscuity or work in prostitution. Many of these "laundries" were effectively operated as penitentiary work-houses. The strict regimes in the institutions were often more severe than those found in the prisons; this contradicted the perceived outlook that they were meant to treat the women as opposed to punishing them. Laundries such as this operated throughout Europe and North America for much of the nineteenth and well into the twentieth century, the last one closing in 1996. The institutions were named after the Biblical figure Mary Magdalene, in earlier centuries characterized as a reformed prostitute.

The first Magdalene institution was founded in late 1758 in Whitechapel, England, which led to the establishment of a similar institution in Ireland by 1767. The first Magdalene asylum in the United States was the Magdalen Society of Philadelphia, founded in 1800; other North American cities, including New York, Boston, Chicago, and Toronto, quickly followed suit. In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Magdalene asylums were common in several countries. By 1900, there were more than 300 asylums in England and more than 20 in Scotland.

Abuse

The conditions of these institutions were horrendous. Victims - from infants to adults - experienced physical, psychological and sexual abuse, and often: death. Mass graves of these victims began to be discovered in the 1990s, and most notably in 2017 when the mass grave of nearly 800 babies and children aged approximately 35 weeks to three years old was discovered in Tuam, Ireland.

 

our thanks to the contributors of this Wikipedia article for providing much of the information used in this post


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