The missing piece to the stories of the Magdalene Laundries

The Report on the Magdalene Laundries is finally out, and people all over the internet are writing about it, and about the abuses that went on there.
The women and girls who were sent to Magdalene Laundries came there via the justice system, via referrals from Industrial and Reformatory Schools, via referrals from psychiatric hospitals and social services, and via referrals from “homes for unwed mothers”. These were socially marginalized women, and they were given to these nuns under the pretext of reformation and provision of social services for “fallen women”. Four orders running the Laundries were identified in the report: Sisters of Our Lady of Charity of Refuge; Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy; Religious Sisters of Charity; and Sisters of the Good Shepherd. The Magdalene Laundries were finally closed in 1996.

Now here’s the part I’ve not seen mentioned nearly enough during this round of reporting/writing on this topic, both in the news-media articles and in various blogs:
The orders who run the laundries to “help” “fallen women”* with the support of the State are still running organizations to “help” “fallen women” with the support of the State!

According to an Irish Times article, two of the orders who ran Magdalene Laundries are now running an organization called Ruhama which purports to help women “affected by” sex work. From Ruhama’s website:

Ruhama was founded as a joint initiative of the Good Shepherd Sisters and Our Lady of Charity Sisters, both of which had a long history of involvement with marginalised women, including those involved in prostitution.

Yeah. Both these orders definitely have a “long history of involvement with marginalised women”. They run Magdalene Laundries in which they imprisoned and abused those women! Why would anyone trust them not to do it again? Especially given that they have no respect whatsoever for the agency and realities of the sex workers they’re claiming to help**?

Reporting about Magdalene Laundries is important; but mentioning their likely successor is, too.
– – – – – – – – – –
*I apologize for the scarequote infestation, but there’s really no other way to talk about these ridiculous and deceitful terms.
**Ruhama is behind a push to institute the Swedish Model in Ireland, a model that is pretty much uniformly rejected by sex workers themselves as harmful.

5 comments on “The missing piece to the stories of the Magdalene Laundries

  1. Yeek. I didn’t know about this. Thanks for telling us.

  2. […] post by Jadehawk pointed me to an article from 2011 in the Irish Times, posted by Paddy […]

  3. Beatrice says:

    Damn. I wish papers were writing about this more.
    It’s really disgusting how they are using their “long history of involvement with marginalised women” as if it were positive advertizement. Or I guess, to them it is. Especially considering the statements (link) both these orders gave, regarding the Report. They are as vile as you can imagine – nonpologie on top of a notpologie on top of bullshit.

  4. “As vile as you can imagine” about sums it up.

    Marginalization and dehumanization of people who are already vulnerable does better than just lets the Church infiltrate people’s personal lives: it provides victims for exploitation. It’s quite profitable. Just because one avenue of abuse has been closed to them (and I suspect it’s still not entirely closed) doesn’t mean they won’t open up new ones.

  5. […] Ruhama claims to “advocate” for Women’s Rights and yet their predecessor enslaved 30,000 women! These prisons of institutionalized misogyny were founded by covens of religious women […]

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