Monday, February 13, 2017

Ireland: Magdalene Laundries, rape and forced labor

I just watched this again since I posted it four years ago. I am sharing it again. It is a very powerful story from three women who were victims of the Catholic Church and its vicious misogynistic policies.  To think that atheists are condemned by the holy as lost people, people who can have no morals. I have no ill will toward  Catholics, I was raised Catholic and went to Catholic schools. But the institution, once the religion of the feudal aristocracy, now the dominant religion of capitalism is rotten to the core. Aren't they all? And like the Catholic Church, most of them are dominated by men and brutal towards women. The issue of creation or god is a personal once and has no place in public life. We are in a situation here in the US where foreign policy with regard to Israel and the Middle East is based on ancient texts, stories from thousands of years ago about creation from people who thought the world was flat.

In relation to this, I urge readers interested in this subject of the special oppression of women as we all should be to read , The Donegal Woman a story of an Irish peasant woman's survival and growth against the odds. The author, John Throne (Sean O'Torain) writes here also. The book was a best seller in Ireland is seen by many as a platform for women's rights. Both the video above and the Donegal Woman are appropriate reminders in the light of the Women's March on Washington, of the role women have played and will play in the struggle against oppression in general. You can also read about the book and order it by clicking on the image to the right.

Please take the time to watch this and read the text below. I was in Dublin at the time I first say this and read the story below. RM

We reprint the piece below from the Irish Journal as a compliment to the video above documenting the Magdalen laundries where young Irish girls and women were imprisoned and forced to do slave labor.  The tragic story of the woman in the piece who died there at the age of 49 and was raped while a prisoner there is not an isolated incident. The story is told by her child.  The Irish state and the Catholic Church are responsible for this atrocity and the crimes committed under their care.  Compensation is also due all the women whose unpaid labor brought considerable income to the Church coffers. The Irish government has still not apologized for its collusion with the Catholic Church in these slave labor schemes. If you haven't seen the Magdalen Sisters, it's a movie worth seeing.  

A Magdalene daughter shares her story

‘Margaret died of her slave-related injuries’:

“Margaret was committed to industrial school in 1954. She was 2 yrs 4 mths old. She left 49 years later in a coffin.” HER FIRST TWEET simply said: “My mother was Magdalene No. 322. Real name Margaret.” It was met by a number of reactions, including disbelief that Magdalenes were given numbers. “Yes,” replied Samantha Long. “I was looking over her records today and thought I’d share that. Awful.” The Twitter user was talking about her late mother, Margaret Bullen, a woman taken into the Magdalene Laundries system when she was just two years old. Just days ahead of the publication of a report into the level of State involvement at the now-infamous institutions, Long decided to share her family’s story.

There had been a campaign to get the hashtag #justiceformagdalenesNOW trending on Twitter to raise awareness last night and the Dublin woman’s provocative, powerful and heartbreaking tweets achieved that aim. READ: ‘A life unlived’: Margaret Bullen’s story With her kind permission, we have reproduced her timeline here: My mother was Magdalene No. 322. Real name Margaret Margaret was committed to industrial school in 1954. She was 2 yrs 4 mths old. She left 49 years later in a coffin. By the age of 5, Margaret was preparing breakfast for 70 children including herself from 4am. Child labour Margaret was noted in her records as “nervous, timid, fretful, a bed-wetter”. No wonder, she was never toilet trained Margaret didn’t know where she was from or when her birthday was. We told her when she was 42 At age 13, Margaret had her IQ measured. She was “certified” as fit for work, unfit for education. Labour camps.

Margaret never lived in the outside world, although she lived just off O’Connell Street in our capital city Margaret didn’t know how to handle money. She had none, and no posessions Margaret never went on a date, Never had a boyfriend. Never fell in love. But she was impregnated in care Margaret’s twin daughters were taken from her 7 weeks after she gave birth.When she saw us again we were 23 When we reunited at the Gresham, Margaret was 42. Not that you’d think it At The Gresham in 1995, Margaret was excited. Not just to meet us,but it was the first time she ever tasted coffee When I became a mother in 2004, it was the first time I allowed myself to grieve for Margaret’s life unlived, denials Margaret and my family enjoyed each other for a few years, hard to recreate deep love after so long Margaret died in July 2003, one day before her 51st birthday.

She died of her slave related injuries Six months after her death, her first grandchild was born. She would have loved her four grandchildren I hope for justice for Margaret and her friends on Tuesday. Thank you all so much for the support. I think she knows I am astounded at the reaction to my tweets about Margaret.Impossible to reply to all.Thank you,I am humbled Goodnight all,finally. Míle buíochas #justiceformagdalenesNOW Senator Martin McAleese’s report has been sent to Justice Minister Alan Shatter, who will publish it in full on Tuesday afternoon, following a Cabinet meeting. The long-awaited report has been delayed multiple times since the inter-departmental committee was established in response to a recommendation from the United Nations Committee Against Torture (UNCAT). That body said it was “gravely concerned” at the failure of the State to protect girls and women who were involuntarily confined between 1922 and 1996. Advocacy groups have called for a full State apology, as well as a proper, transparent compensation scheme for survivors. About 30,000 women were incarcerated in Magdalene Laundries between 1922 and 1996. has previously told Margaret’s story and that piece can be found here. Samantha Long has also written about both her mothers in this touching blog post.

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