The women of the Magdalene Laundries spent their lives scrubbing, bleaching and ironing.
Magdalene Laundry Survivors
You could even be sent to one of these institutions for petty crimes such as not paying your train ticket and condemned to a life of slave labour
Worked to the bone, beaten and abused, the experiences of women held in the ‘care’ of the nuns in Ireland’s notorious Magdalene Laundries, is the stuff of nightmares. Also known as Magdalene asylums, Magdalene Laundries were cruel and medieval institutions in which women were imprisoned, stripped of their human rights, and abused sexually and otherwise.
The Magdalene Laundry was a place where women and children passed through as slave labourers to orders of the nuns in mid twentieth century Ireland, and the complicity of the church and society that tried to keep their stories hidden.
The laundries were set up in 1922 when the newly independent Irish state delegated welfare duties to the religious orders.
Named after the Bible’s redeemed prostitute, Mary Magdalene, the workhouses were used to reform ‘fallen women’ but they soon expanded to take in girls who were considered ‘promiscuous’, unmarried mothers, the criminal, mentally unwell and girls who seen as a burden on their families.
They were the forgotten women of Ireland, kept under lock and key, forced to clean and sew, and to wash away the sins of their previous life while never being paid a penny. Some stayed months, others years. Some never left. They were the inmates of Ireland’s notorious 20th century workhouses, the Magdalene Laundries.
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