Sunday, June 8, 2014

It's Magdalene Laundry Time Again: Ireland Struggles To Identify The Bodies of 800 Discarded Children.

Writing about this on Sunday - there's definitely a dichotomy: an unholy subject on a supposedly holy day.*

They have no headstones, no coffins. No memory boxes of toys and photographs. There are nearly eight hundred of them – and counting. They are the 796 babies and young children aged between two days and nine years whose grave, “filled to the brim with tiny bones and skulls,” was found last week in an unmarked site that once housed a septic tank near a County Galway home for unwed mothers.

The Real Shame of Ireland: The Treatment of Women

When Andrew Sullivan first broke the news about the "800", the most interesting response was from a reader:
There have been small changes in Ireland in the last 30 years, but … there is a place women must know, and it’s weird. It is far different than an American woman’s place.
Children of unwed mothers fare even worse:
However, in the year 2012, I visited relatives in rural western Ireland whose teenage daughter got pregnant. She wasn’t shipped off, she stayed home, had the baby. I came for tea. We talked of everything, but the baby. The baby sat in the room, and no one remarked about it. It was as if there was some creature making a bothersome noise, like an errant animal, and NO ONE TALKED ABOUT HOW THAT CREATURE GOT THERE.

The discarded "creatures" of scorned women. A memorial* to the innocents is already in the making. But what about their mothers?


The treatment of women has been a focus of universal concern: from the rape-hanging in India to the kidnapping of 300 school girls in Nigeria, all misogyny seems to be imbued with religion, a patriarchy, and a masculine privilege encouraged by religion around the world. Compromising women has been a millennia-old tradition.

In Clare Booth Luce's "The Women," Mary Haines - a sophisticated woman facing the adultery of her husband - responds to her mother's plea for marital compromise: "Oh, that was alright in your day, mother, when women were chattels, but Steven and I took each other for life as equals, and I won't compromise that equality. It's wrong, shockingly wrong." But later in the play, the street-wise chorus girl, Miriam Aarons, tells Mary that "a woman's compromised the day's she's born."

Miriam's pov is still right today.

What America Has Yet To Learn

Stories from Ireland's Catholic Church and India's rape culture always elicit a "Thank God it couldn't happen here." But what many history-ignorant Americans fail to realize is that it DID happen here: the rape culture was prominent in the South among slave owners and there were actually Magdalene laundries here in the United States. By calling Sandra Fluke a "slut" for merely asking for birth control, Rush Limbaugh showed us that the misogyny of a rape culture still exists, and that women are "compromised" until proven equal.

Today's anti-abortionists have also gotten into the fray of "compromise" by insisting that rape victims give birth to children, fully knowing that those children will be treated with just as much scorn as their mothers, and may be sentenced to a life of a "creature" no one wants to talk about.

And "Duck Dynasty's" Phil Robertson gives little attention to women over 15 as potential wives. What he thinks about unmarried, pregnant girls and their progeny has yet to be determined.

Ann Coulter has posited that most illegitimate children grow up to be criminals.

Compromised women still lead to "discarded" children.

*This author felt compelled to write about it since as many readers know, I was born in an orphanage and possibly escaped the massive Duplessis Orphan scandal of Quebec.

* "It is understood a small financial donation has now been made by the Bons Secours Sisters to help the community build a memorial." The community might react with a large donation of "BFD."

1 comment:

  1. The sadness in this account of the 800 children is painful to read about but the account has been shown to be grossly distorted. The story has already been descredited by the woman who did the studies. The Septic tank was placed in an already established cemetary for infants.

    The situation of the Irish children in mothers and babies homes is a sad one but the fatalities were not far off the fatalities taking place in any over-crowded institution.

    I lived in northern Canada where Inuits and Northern First Nation people died of TB and other infectious diseases due to crowded conditions in group homes. They were a national scandal in the fifties and sixties but it was not the result of a mean spirited staff. It was the result of lack of funding for proper housing.

    I lived in Ireland in the forties & early fifties. It was a very poor country and group homes were supported by religious bodies, not by the government. Poorly educated nuns and Irish Christian Brothers ran many of the institutions, including schools and childrens homes. Some, who taught me, were exemplary but some were far from exemplary.

    Why don't you do some comparative investigations into other countries and their institutions during the same period that these fatalities took place rather than impugn an entire religion.