As some of you know, my first book was on the Magdalene Laundries and this research took me from being an actress, through graduate school, to completing a PhD. The history of the Magdalene Laundries compelled to go back to school. I had a despreate need to understand, as much as I could, how and why places like the laundries could exist. I had discovered a news story about the Magdalene laundries back in 1996, while researching for a play I was writing about Margaret Sanger & birth-control. This play eventually became my second book, Writing the Diaphragm Blues. It is amazing how life is so very interconnected.
Regardless, the first article I read about the Magdalene Laundries amazed me – how could there still be an institution, in 1996, that basically shamed women for being women? How could there still be an institution that exploited women for their labor, profiting off their backs while calling them sinners? I was also captured by this event simply because all the women in my immediate family had been sexually, physically, and emotionally abused in a few Catholic institutions. As such, these articles hit close to home.
—time and space—
The Laundries and the Report released on 2/5/2013
I am going to dedicate the next few blog posts to the report released yesterday; a report compiled by an Inter-Departmental Committee designed to investigate the role the state of Ireland played in the Magdalene Laundries. I will examine the findings and bring up some additional questions I have as well. This report ONLY examines the Laundries from 1922 to 1996, or the establishment of the Irish State to the closing of the last Laundry in Ireland. As such, much of the true history of these institutions are lost: how they arose, how inspections did and did not occur, how they functioned as profit centers and the like. Here are a few basic and important findings of the report, including the state admitting involvement in the Laundries within these five areas:
- Routes by which girls and women entered the Laundries;
- Regulation of the workplace and State inspections of the Laundries;
- State funding of and financial assistance to the Laundries (including contracts for laundry services);
- Routes by which girls and women left the Laundries;
- Death registration, burials and exhumations.
Here are the numbers – *Image made from the Executive Summary
Read the entire report here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/feb/05/magdalene-laundries-ireland-state-guilt
Read “Ryan’s Report” – a related report commisioned to inquire into child abuse within state run institutions in Ireland: http://www.childabusecommission.com/rpt/
Read my book on the history/ origions of the Magdalene Laundries, how they rose durring the middle ages, were transformed by capitalism, and how they manifested differently in different states (such as England vs Ireland): http://www.amazon.com/Origins-Magdalene-Laundries-Analytical-History/dp/0786444460
Read James M. Smith’s excellent book on the Laundries. His focus is Ireland specifically, whereas my focus was the roots of these institutions: http://www.amazon.com/Irelands-Magdalen-Laundries-Architecture-Containment/dp/026804127X/ref=pd_bxgy_b_img_y