Unfortunately a lot of the material I had posted has gone missing from that site.
I found a little on my computer so I’ll post what I can find of my response to an earlier article.
What we have with the Magdalen Asylums is a situation where women who were ex-prostitutes, or “at risk of” prostitution, were admitted (some possibly under some state coercion and having few other options open) to strictly-run institutions, and allegedly often treated with what would NOW (but not necessarily at the time) be regarded as undue harshness.
Conditions where vulnerable people were subject to strict discipline and rigid institutional routines were the NORM in SECULAR institutions in the US, UK, Australia, Ireland and elsewhere until very recently. In fact those unlucky enough to find themselves in ‘’‘secular’’’ mental institutions (and that was a considerable number) were also subject to the maiming torture of drug “treatment”, and Electro-convulsive-therapy. And some of that still goes on today - with no catholic nuns involved! So attempts to present this as some “evil catholic scandal” as the article has done, are utterly misplaced.
Talk of people being kept in “prison”, and being used as “slaves”, is emotive nonsense, bordering on hysteria, and certainly not the stuff of any sort of encyclopaedia. There are many, many institutions in the UK, US and Ireland, where the inmates work, or have worked, both as part of their integration into normal society, and to contribute towards their own upkeep. To call such systems “prisons” and “slavery” is crass nonsense. Not ten miles from where I live there is a community where mentally handicapped people live and work in hostels, under supervision, farming and producing craft goods.
I call the article anti-catholic, because that is how it has been presented. The impression given was of catholic nuns imprisoning and brutalizing people. It is based on one sensationalist book - and yes, there ARE sensationalist books - and books written to an agenda. That is why I quoted a contrary opinion based on reputable research.
Maria Luddy of Warwick University, who wrote the review you pooh poohed, is one of the foremost experts on the subject in Ireland. A paper of hers here: triangle.co.uk/pdf/viewpdf.asp?j=whr&vol=6&issue=4&year=1997&article=Luddy&id=126.96.36.199 states:
‘‘The majority of women who entered these refuges did so voluntarily. Approximately 7110, or just over 66%, and a number of women re-entered, some as often as ten times. From the available evidence it seems that entering a refuge was, for the majority of women, a matter of choice. While it is true that many destitute women ad only the workhouse or the magdalene assylum to turn to in times of utter distress, it would appear that the second was the favoured option of many. The length of stay in the asylums varied from one day for some women, to an entire lifetime of thirty or forty years. It was generally women who entered in their teens or were in their thirties or older, who remained in the homes. ‘’‘The decision to stay was made by the women themselves’’’, and although the nuns certainly did not encourage women to leave, ‘’‘they had little choice in the matter if the woman was determined to go.’’’ It would seem from the number of re-entries that some women may have used the asylums as a temporary shelter, and once they were able to return to the outside world they did so. For others, the stability of life within a refuge, the order and discipline involved may have bought a sense of security, and ‘’‘made it an attractive option to remain’’’.’’
No mention of “crimes”, let alone “slavery” and “imprisonment”.
The article still contains blatant pieces of unsupported OPINION, such as: “Because of their background as prostitutes, inmates were regarded as vile creatures of sin:”
Another extremely dodgy paragraph that has been put back in is: "
‘‘They disappeared as they ceased to be profitable. “Possibly the advent of the washing machine has been as instrumental in closing these laundries as have changing attitudes,” according to Frances Finnegan.’’
This is just opinion “supported” by opinion. An examination of the ‘’‘facts’’’ shows that nearly all such large-scale residential institutions for the non-violent, (secular and religious), disapppeared at the same time, between the 70s and the 90s, as attitudes changed and community-based solutions dominated. The idea that they were closed because the washing machine was invented is risible. And actually, the washing machine appeared around 1920, the automatic following in 1950.
More risible still is the notion that the Catholic church had a wish to run chains of laundries based on slave labour.