Roman Catholic forced labour, forced abortions for girls


This 2009 video from Ireland says about itself:

The Good Shepherd Convent, Magdalen Asylum, Sunday’s Well, Cork opened on the 29th July 1872. It remained the site of orphanage, Magdalen laundry until the late 1970s.

The buildings have been derelict ever since a serious fire in 2003. The laundry was one of buildings that were destroyed. The existence of the Magdalen asylums was little thought of until, in 1993, when an order of nuns in Dublin sold part of their convent to a real estate developer.

The shocking discovery of 155 inmates buried in unmarked graves was made, all were exhumed and with the exception of one body were cremated and re-interred in a communal grave. This triggered a public scandal and became local and national news in 1999.

Mary Norris, Josephine McCarthy and Mary-Jo McDonagh, all asylum inmates, gave accounts of their treatment. The 1998 Channel 4 documentary Sex in a Cold Climate interviewed former inmates of Magdalen Asylums who testified to continued sexual, psychological and physical abuse while being isolated from the outside world for an indefinite amount of time.

The conditions in the Good Shepherd Convent, Magdalen Laundry Asylum, and treatment of the inmates was dramatized in the acclaimed film The Magdalene Sisters (2002), written and directed by Peter Mullan.

The full name of this organisation is The Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd, also known as the Magdalene Sisters.

Translated from Dutch daily NRC, 18 January 2019

‘Catholic congregation is liable for forced labor of girls’

Sisters of the Good Shepherd

Nuns violated European human rights treaty with forced labor of girls. If there is no settlement, then a lawsuit will follow.

By Joep Dohmen

January 18, 2019

Forty-four women who were forced to do forced labor in laundries and sewing workshops of the sisters of the Good Shepherd, held the Catholic congregation to account this week. They demand recognition of abuses, payment of wages and compensation for material and immaterial damage. In the statement of liability sent on Thursday, the sisters are accused of violating the European Convention on Human Rights by imprisoning the girls and forcing them into unpaid work. If there is no amicable settlement within six weeks, then a lawsuit will follow, says their lawyer Liesbeth Zegveld.

The claim comes after the disclosure in NRC last year that at least 15,000 girls and women in the Netherlands did forced labor between 1860 and 1978 in the so-called “love institutions” of the sisters in Zoeterwoude, Tilburg, Velp and Almelo.

Reports about exploitation by the nuns previously became known in France, Australia, Canada, the US, Germany and Ireland. In Ireland, the government started independent research. The victims received compensation from the government. The nuns refused to pay.

In the Netherlands the congregation refused last year to also accommodate victims financially. According to the congregation, their claim “has been time-barred” for a long time. Zegveld: “The question is whether the congregation is protected by a time bar. After all, it was an international system of exploitation and abuse.”

The 44 women stayed from 1948 to the end of the nineteen seventies in one or more institutions of the sisters. They were between 10 and 21 years old at the time. Zegveld: “They had to work under threat of punishment and against their will. Six days a week, eight hours a day. ”

The girls worked in sewing workshops, laundries, ironing rooms, and did housework. The institutions were closed. Zegveld: “There was punishment for resistance to work, running away, resting or working slowly.” The sisters are also accused of sabotaging the girls’ education and submitting to “psychological abuse and neglect”.

Furthermore, there is the accusation of physical violence. Zegveld: “Some have been aborted forcibly with violence.

Abortion, according to official Roman Catholic doctrine, is a terrible crime. A Spanish archbishop believes that one is allowed to rape women who have had an abortion. Apparently, if abortion is done forcibly at the orders of a Catholic congregation, then it suddenly ceases to be a crime.

The self-styled ‘March for Life’ is a religious fundamentalist right-wing march against women’s rights, especially against women’s reproductive rights, eg on abortion. These religious misogynists call themselves ‘pro-life’. Which is hypocritical, as they are usually pro-Pentagon wars all over the world. And usually pro-the racist death penalty. And often for other forms of racism, as Kentucky far-right Roman Catholics showed recently by insulting Native Americans.

Others had to give up their children.” The group is supported by fellow survivors’ organization VPKK. It wants the government to conduct an independent investigation, just like in Ireland. Minister Dekker (Justice, VVD) refuses that. VPKK board member Annemie Knibbe: “He says it has been researched before, which is simply not true.”

12 thoughts on “Roman Catholic forced labour, forced abortions for girls

  1. How did they get away with this for so long? Why didn’t people realize that the convents were just commercial laundries? Answer is “they did”, but, even today, the church are still denying that any of this ever happened

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