The Magdalene Laundries Of Ireland: A Case Study Essay

It is just a fact. Women are heavily oppressed in societies around the world. Some would think that, as a result of this fact, the government protects the rights of women and thus prosecute the offenders, but this is not the case. Women are frequently not given justice in cases of women’s right all around the world. This truth will be explored through the case of the Magdalene Laundries of Ireland, which took place for over 200 years, as well as other small events that show true patriarchal prevalence throughout the world. Women are not given justice in cases of oppression because of the four pillars.

Aronson argues that race is constructed because, “Physical differences matter. ” And also because it is believed that, “Each group has a distinct level of brain power and moral refinement, thus they are naturally and unchangeably ranked”. These reasons alone condone injustice in cases racial prejudice. The point that will be proven today is as follows: Women frequently do not receive justice in government cases because of physical differences as seen in the case of the Magdalene laundries through examples of slavery and torture. The Magdalene Laundries of Ireland are a lesser known example of women’s abuse and oppression.

From the years 1765 to 1996 disobedient young women were sent by their parents to work in the laundries in hopes that they would be reformed. These laundries hurt and tortured the women if their parents turned them in for reasons such as sex outside of marriage, stealing out of hunger, and even if they had been raped. These women once put into the asylums were condemned to a life of work and cruelty. There was little to no chance of getting out, and the only possible way to get out (without the nearly impossible idea of escaping) was if a family member came to the laundry gett you out.

Some women were fortunate enough to have family members track them down and take them out, but most of them were not. According to one of the 277 Magdalene survivors, the laundries would send a faulty report home, informing the parents of how the child was doing in school, or behaviorally. These women report that they were never taught anything school related. They were condemned to work. “The moral horror of the Magdalene laundries is that the abuses they perpetrated were not the outgrowths of simple sadism, or even of unmindfulness, but of a belief that they were intended for the victims’ own good” (Lerner 280).

This was the sad part. These nuns weren’t trying to torture these women. They were trying to show them the difference between right and wrong so they wouldn’t be prostitute or thieves, but this got out of hand. The laundries were named as the Magdalene Laundries after the biblical figure Mary Magdalene, who was originally a prostitute, but was saved by the grace and forgiveness of the savior, Jesus Christ of Nazareth. This saving was what the nuns intended to do for these women through the laundries.

But nowhere in the Bible does Mary Magdalene experience wretched punishment in the form of work, in order to be saved. This is where the laundries differed from their intent to follow biblical teachings. These women were “saved” through punishment, torture, and work. The laundries were so frightening, that they did indeed keep the women out of trouble, but this was a completely immoral way of doing so. Though the surviving women were forced to work for many years, when the doors of the last laundry closed in 1996, the Irish government refused to give the women and apology or compensation for their work.

The Minister for Education and Science, Batt O’Keefe said himself, “The Magdalen Laundries were privately owned establishments which did not come within the responsibility of the state. ” He put off the chance of any compensation under the current legislation. Mary Raftery (a survivor) was less than happy with this. She wrote, “While the state did not fund these institutions, it is unarguable that the legal duty to inspect and regulate them …. did exist” (Ruth 1). This shows the injustice from the government in this event.

They did nothing and claimed that the Magdalene Laundries had nothing to do to them, despite the fact that these horrific events occurred in their own country. Because of this claim the Irish government was able to easily put off the compensation due to the women. The Irish government didn’t compensate these women until nearly a decade later when they were forced to after the UNCAT conducted an investigation. Even though the women were compensated, many of the Magdalene women that survived didn’t think that the 10. 3 million euros in compensation, which was given to the 277 survivors, correctly expressed the pain that they suffered. I want an apology before I die,” says Mary Merritt, an eighty-three year old survivor that spent fourteen terrible years in the laundry. Her story is one of the worst laundry stories, as she was raped, became pregnant, and the nuns took her child away. A

ll these women want is for someone to care or to give them a legitimate apology. This, I’m afraid, is too much to ask. This isn’t the only court case in which women have not received justice. “Amina, a sixteen-year-old Moroccan girl, was raped and forced by the judge hearing her case to marry her rapist. She was forced, by the court into a scandalous and unfavorable environment in which she was in danger and at risk of being physically and emotionally abused by her husband. This example shows how women all around the world are mistreated and tortured for reasons that are unknown by many. The reasons for the injustice in these cases of women’s rights especially the Magdalene Laundry cases mostly come back to the four pillars of race that were stated by Marc Aronson in the introduction of his book “Race”. Each pillar applies directly to the case of the Magdalene Laundries.

First, “Physical differences matter” (Aronson 3). This, as seen through a wide lens, explains every form of oppression. Females, specifically, are oppressed by men and by society due to physical differences alone. This becomes known because females and males have the same mental capacity, though they are wired differently. Thus, the only difference that could cause these prejudices is physical differences. Second, “The differences in our bodies cannot change. People could argue with the truth of this from an anatomical standpoint concerning men and women, but nevertheless, it is absolutely true on a cellular standpoint.

Males contain a Y chromosome while women do not. This is a difference that causes prejudice all around the world. The simple inheritance, or lack of, a Y chromosome causes people to be cruel to each other. The third point, which I have already hit on, is as follows: “This is because they [physical differences] are inherited”. And the last point is this: “Each group has a distinct level of brain power and moral refinement, thus they are naturally and unchangeably ranked”. This statement is believed by many, in order to prove that women, because they are physically different, are therefore lesser in mental aptitude.

This is a false statement, upon which, sexism is based. Sexism causes women to not be given rights for the reasons above. The Magdalene women were originally sent to these asylums because they differed from the common belief of how a woman should be. The majority of these women were sent to the asylums because they were more sexually active than common belief would suggest was okay. It was believed that by sending the women to these laundries they would be cleansed and forgiven of their sins. The guardians of the children and even the nuns believed that they were doing the best thing for these girls.

They did this through intense unpaid labor or slavery. One definition of a slave, found on google, is as follows: “a person who works very hard without proper remuneration or appreciation” (Google). Following this definition it is proven that the women in the Magdalene laundries were indeed slaves or at least treated as such. Not only this, but they were held there by force. Women all around the world fall under the classification of a slave, and these same women are frequently never compensated for the work that they do or for the trauma that they’ve experienced.

This happens as a result of physical differences alone. What other reasons are there that separate men and women besides mere physicality? None. We are all capable of being intelligent, kind human beings. Physical differences are the barrier that separates justice and injustice. These differences may never be passed over due to tradition, but the humans on the earth do not have to stand under the umbrella of the patriarchy. A physical difference does not define intelligence or character, though it is, unfortunately, the root of injustice in cases of women’s rights.