Magdalene Laundries – Part 2/2: Institutionalised Slavery

When the Sisters of Charity in Dublin sold off their property to the Government in 1993, the news burst forth that there were 133 unmarked graves in the grounds. It was discovered that these were previous inmates of the convent laundry. While some bodies were claimed by family members after this became public, many of them remained unnamed, unclaimed. One of the reasons they could not have been traced was that once they entered the asylum, their entire identity before entry was effaced, and their names changed. These women did not even have any death certificates, which went against the law of the time. The convent seemed to have got away with blatantly flouting the law in this case, as indeed, it had by forcibly detaining women to work without pay, and pocketing the income from their labour.

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Magdalene Laundries – Part 1/2: An Erotophobic Society

Magdalene Asylums or Magdalene Laundries were religious organisations set up ostensibly for the reformation and shelter of “fallen” women. The idea was to model the asylums in the name of Mary Magdalene, who, according to the Catholic Church, was a prostitute and a sinner. Her penitence and repentance earned her a place among the saints of the Catholic Church, in the process leading to the degradation, imprisonment and forced penance of innocent women several hundred years later.

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