Friday, September 23, 2011

Something I never learned about in history class

In current media there are a lot of reports about the Catholic church and how priests and bishops and others have abused boys. The allegations of child abuse, rape, and other horrible things seems to be in the news somewhere weekly, if not daily. It's not on the front pages anymore but it's there.

Well here's something I hadn't heard about until today... the NUNS. I have known for a long time that unwed mothers used to be "sent away" to have their children and they would come back some months later or something. Never really too clear on how that really worked out, but I got it that maybe they went to another town and started their lives over or something. Today I ran across a dvd put out by "The Cinema Guild" that shows a piece of history that I'd never learned...

From the dvd "Sex in a Cold Climate":
"This historical documentary is a deeply disturbing portrait of Magdalene Asylums run by Catholic nuns in Ireland. For over a hundred years girls and young women were sent to live and work in the Magdalene Asylums’ Laundries after they’d had sexual or ‘sinful’ contact with men. Of the 30,000 women who were imprisoned in them, many never got out. The last one didn’t close until 1996. The video features interviews with several women detained in Magdalene Asylums between the 1940s and the 1960s. The purpose of the Asylums—named after the repentant biblical prostitute Mary Magdalene—was to correct the supposed sexual deviance of young women. Getting pregnant out of wedlock and having an illegitimate baby, like Christina Mulcahy, made you an obvious candidate. But the criteria of deviance was so vague and wide ranging that some Magdalenes didn’t know why they had been put away. Phyllis Valentine was sent there because she was considered “too pretty” and therefore a moral danger to herself and others. Martha Cooney was put away after she complained that a cousin had sexually molested her. The Asylums were often run by abusive and even sadistic nuns. All the women featured eventually escaped, but the emotional and physical strain these Magdalenes had to endure led to damaged lives.
Directed by Steve Humphries
1998, color and B&W, 50 mins.

* Silver Hugo
* Chicago International Film Festival

“What a pleasure,in the current surge of docu-soaps and their more stylish but similarly one-dimensional cousins,to see a study with some historical perspective.” — Time Out London
“...a breathtaking documentary.” — The Sunday Times
“...the most revealing work to date on Ireland ’s so-called fallen women.” — The Irish Examiner"

That is right off of Cinema Guild's website-

I had no idea... and this was happening until  1996!!!