Irish and U.S. media are swarming with coverage of the latest government report about the notorious Magdalene laundries. The news here is state collusion with the Irish Catholic Church in running the abusive laundries.
Here’s a description from Time:
The laundries — a beneficent-sounding word that helped hide the mistreatment that took place inside their walls — were operated by four orders of Catholic nuns in Ireland from 1922 to 1996. Over 10,000 young women, considered a burden by family, school and the state, spent an average of six months to a year locked up in these workhouses doing unpaid, manual work. Some were kept there against their will for years. Their numbers were made up by unmarried mothers and their daughters, women and girls who had been sexually abused, women with mental or physical disabilities who were unable to live independently, and young girls who had grown up under the care of the church and the state. The laundries were “a mechanism that society, religious orders and the state came up with to try and get rid of people deemed not to be conforming to the so-called mythical, cultural purity that was supposed to be part of Irish identity,” [said] Irish historian Diarmaid Ferriter.
The horrors of the Magdalene laundries have been know about for years. Here’s a 1999 video report by 60 Minutes. Now “the Maggies” are waiting for an official apology from the Irish government.
Lest anyone think such abuse of children is unique to Irish or Catholic institutions, take a look at the excellent reporting of the Tampa Bay Times about the sordid history of the Florida School for Boys.