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A crime against humanity and children can not exist without the cooperation of those in charge at the highest level from the Magdalenes Laundries to those that govern Ireland. 


These events started in Dublin with Lady Arabella Denny, a philanthropist who founded the first Magdalene Asylum to assist prostitutes and what they deemed fallen girls/women, hence the name, into rehabilitation. The women were provided with skills that serve them in life. After months, but not longer than 2 years, they were permitted to go back home or into the workforce. Lady Arabella was born into a family of wealth and was well educated with a background in lace-making.


As time passed these institution intake became younger women and girls brought there by their parents if they were pregnant and unwed hiding the embarrassment from the town. The reasons for incarceration broaden. Innocent women and girls were now institutionalized as a means of convenience for men and families. 


This venture may have started off with good intentions, but took a turn when the Catholic Religion and the Irish government's interest involvement intervened. The Maggies as some would call them, took a business model approach, they started building and incorporating the services of the industrial laundry business. These were built behind the building structure away from the view of the public. All the Magdalene Laundries were operated by Catholic Nuns who ruled with an iron fist.


These Laundries acquired local, state, and government contracts for the work being accomplished by the women and girls incarcerated without any form of compensation. This now became modern day slavery. Since it is now operated as a business institution, profits matter, giving reason to keep an influx of women and girls entering the door but rarely leaving. It’s recorded that a large number of women stayed incarcerated most of their lives. The girls who entered became grown women. 


Entering a Magdalene Laundry was the start of many abuses that occurred. The treatment was harsh. All the doors and windows were locked to prevent escape and most grounds had high walls. If someone did run away, they would often get returned by the local police or family member. Humiliation would be a form of punishment and on occasion, beatings would take place. In the case of Maureen Sullivan, who entered the Magdalen Laundry in New Ross, Co. at the age of twelve, she received vicious beatings by the nuns. She was hidden away in an underground tunnel when government inspectors arrived. Maureen was placed in the Laundry when she confided in her Nun teacher for help about her step-father, who would beat, sexual molested, and raped her starting at the age of eight. She tells her story in the book below, "The Girl in the Tunnel".


The girls and women were served if lucky, two meals per day with the evening meal being bread and tea. The meals were low in protein and nutrition keeping them weak. They were forced to work when ill or punished. The hours were long for six days a week. Lack of proper ventilation and inhaling fumes made it more intolerable causing sickness. For those that spent most of their lives working in these conditions and routine for decades, physicians who examined these women after the institutions were closed concluded that they were now living in a zombie-like state without any independent thoughts or behavior. This form of treatment left them psychologically unfit to survive on their own. When the girls and women entered, their education ceased to exist and no further mental stimulation took place. The little they did learn occurred when a new individual was brought in and conversation happened in secrecy. It was against rules for conversation to take place. 


On the seventh day in some locations was recreation time. This is where they sat in a large room with a tin box full of beads. They spend the entire day making rosaries to fill orders for the Catholic Church shops around the world. Maureen Sullivan states “all over the world, Catholics say their prayers every night with their fingers holding beads that slaves have strung together. 

When the women were brought to the Laundries pregnant, their babies were taken from them and sold to families across seas if not locally without their mothers consent or knowledge. The Priest from the Catholic Church arranged and operated these transactions. Payment was recorded as a donation from the receiving guardians disguising the transaction. We are now dealing with Human Trafficking. False birth certificates were issued with a different last name making it difficult to trace the  incarcerated mothers. This occurred if the baby was fortunate to find a home. The mothers in the institutions were issued false death certificates of the babies that were sold. Keep in mind, the nun’s were acting as nurses when assisting in the birth at these locations. They were not registered nurses. If a baby didn’t survive, they would be buried in an unmarked grave along with the other babies who died in the process from the lack of care, illness, and nutrition. Tuam, Ireland is one of many unmarked mass graves. In Tuam, seven hundred, ninety six corpses were discovered on the grounds of St. Mary’s Mother and Baby institution operated by the nuns.

Human Trafficking Art

Magdalene Laundries

Click on photo to view details
Human Trafficking in Ireland

Debra Rufini interviews 

Maureen Sullivan

Human Trafficking in Ireland
Ray Rosario
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