a few years ago, a movie premiered at SIFF called the magdalene sisters. it’s a fictionalized account of three young women imprisioned in one of the magdalene laundries. and when i say imprisoned, i mean imprisoned.
see, the magdalene laundries are real places, run in ireland from the 1920’s through the 1990’s. people would joke about sending their daughters or sisters to a laundry. these places were no joke. families would send them to the laundries, but the order of nuns who ran the places wouldn’t necessarily let them out. often women would be stuck, indefinitely, and if they were pregnant when they entered, the child would be born and raised within the laundry.
the catholic diocese of ireland has been, over the last two decades, investigating claims of abuse against the church. but the laundries were left out of the inquiries. the fund set up to compensate abuse victims specifically excluded those young women who were forced to work, without pay, in the laundries. so ireland’s human rights commission conducted a review of its own, and present its findings to the government, who immediately criticized the commission for not including the government in its inquiries.
ireland, for all its forward movement over the years, is still lagging in many respects. the stranglehold the catholic church has on the country and its governance often reminds me of a much more backwoods sort of place.
and what have we learned from all of this? ireland still has a long long LONG way to go. you can read the associated press article by clicking here.