Nuns ‘forced children as young as 5 to eat own vomit in exchange for holiday’
The Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry also heard lamb stew was made but the meat was off and the nuns at Nazareth House, Belfast, forced them to eat it
Nuns allegedly forced children as young as five to ear their own vomit in exchange for a holiday.
The Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry heard how youngsters at Nazareth House in South Belfast had been promised a holiday if they ate their dinner.
In a statement read to the hearing, a witness said a lamb stew had been made but the meat was off and the nuns forced them to eat it anyway, reports Belfast Live.
And with the 66-year-old ex-Nazareth House resident taking the stand on oath, she was challenged: “You have said the smell was horrendous but the nuns made you eat it otherwise no one would go on holidays.
“You were literally eating your own vomit. Each of the children as young as five were doing this.
“You said it seemed to go on for hours.
“If you didn’t eat your stew, somebody else ate it for you because you all wanted to go on your holidays.
“The congregation has said the food was the best they could provide in the circumstances but they had never made a child eat meat that had gone off and deny anyone would have had to eat their own vomit.”
The witness replied: “The congregation were not there. I dispute what they are saying. It’s not true.”
The inquiry also heard girls were forced to eat in silence and would be slapped with a cane, ruler, spoon or strap for talking.
The witness added: “I was beaten thousands of times. I remember so many punishments.
“I’d lie in bed and think it was just a nightmare and daddy was coming to take me out. But I was there for nine years.”
The congregation that formally responds to allegations made to the inquiry also refused to acknowledge the witness was made to empty a box containing soiled sanitary towels every week.
She further claimed she was beaten so fiercely by a nun she was left bruised and bloodied.
She ran away from the home and caught a train to an aunt and uncle in Lurgan, Co Armagh.
The inquiry heard how her aunt was shocked to see the 14-year-old’s back was seriously injured and bleeding.
She was taken to a police station and the nun was reported but a police officer suggested she had injured herself.
The witness said she was taken back to Nazareth House by her abuser and ordered to say a decade of the rosary by the mother superior but refused.
The Church congregation said they have no record of the incident.
The witness also stated the girls were bathed twice a week in water disinfected with Jeyes Fluid, an industrial cleaner.
And DDT, a toxic insecticide that causes nerve problems, was used on them if they had lice.
Years later she said she received a letter from a nun who told her: “My sincere apologies for any pain I have caused.”
The witness told the inquiry: “I do not accept an apology. It’s too late and it did not come until the wrongs were made public.
“And those who should be apologising are no longer here. I feel like their denials are calling us liars. We are not.
“It was unpaid labour to earn our keep. We were unpaid labourers, not children in care. It was nothing but humiliating and degrading.
“They did not love us, most of the time they did not like us. So no I don’t want an apology but redress, yes.”
The hearing continues.
Still protecting its own
From the Link: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/still-protecting-its-own/2016/05/15/dca095ec-194f-11e6-aa55-670cabef46e0_story.html
“In 1995, two individuals alleged sexual abuse by Father Robert Hopkins in the 1970s.”
“In 1999, an individual alleged sexual abuse by Father Timothy Murphy in the late 1960s to early 1970s.”
“In 2002, an individual alleged sexual abuse in the mid-1970s by Dennis Pecore, who was then a religious brother.”
ON AND ON it goes. These accounts, and several dozen others like them, now appear on the website of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore, which recently published a list — or rather, republished one from 2002 with 14 additional names — of clergy alleged to have abused children. Similar lists have been published by other dioceses, which in recent years have taken steps to atone for years of sweeping such cases under the rug by adopting more forthcoming policies and providing counseling to victims of abusive priests.
The church says the publication of these names will provide acknowledgment to victims that they are not alone. By seeing their abusers publicly identified and shamed, victims may be “empowered to find out that other people have alleged against the same person,” according to Sean Caine, spokesman for the archdiocese.
That’s a fair point but an inadequate one. For while the archdiocese is extending one sort of validation to victims, it’s simultaneously pressing to deny most of them another sort: the opportunity to seek redress in the courts.
For years, even as it acknowledged having systematically enabled and covered up the abuse of children by priests, the church has also fought aggressively to maintain tight deadlines that limit the time in which survivors may file lawsuits against abusers and superiors who looked the other way.
In Maryland, the church, fearing the financial fallout of such suits, has lobbied so effectively that bills to extend the deadline, known as the statute of limitations, have not even been accorded a vote in the legislature. The result for the great majority of victims is that by the time they speak up about the abuse they suffered — typically, many years after the fact, as the examples at the top of this editorial illustrate — they no longer have the option of filing a lawsuit, which now ends at age 25. Youthful victims of abuse, whether in schools, churches or teams, must be given more leeway to seek justice, including compensation for the harm they have suffered.
The church argues that abusers are ill-equipped to defend themselves when alleged victims level their accusations many years after the fact; it cites fading memories, unreliable witnesses and fragile evidence. Yet Maryland, like most states, has no such deadline limiting when abusers can be criminally prosecuted. Just as in criminal cases, civil juries are qualified to judge the strength of a victim’s allegations and a defendant’s response.
It’s possible that the stigma of abuse may start to fade as a result of the publicity to which clergy sex abuse has been exposed. If victims come forward more quickly, owing to the Academy Award-winning film “Spotlight” and intensified public discussion of abuse, that would be a good thing. In the meantime, justice for victims must include the option of litigation — even if that proves costly for the Catholic Church and other institutions.
Magdalene Laundries: Women who have lost their way
By Rachael Romero – posted Thursday, 20 June 2013
From the link: http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=15148
The Washington Times article: “A Magdalene Laundry survivor speaks out,” reminds us that Magdalene Laundries were not only in Ireland but replicated all over the world.
Was the Irish State’s recent apology for their complicity with the church in the enslavement of young women for years inside the notorious Magdalene Laundries, (or workhouses for girls, many of which were run by Good Shepherd nuns) – and subsequent calls for restorative justice for survivors – the impetus for the Good Shepherd Sisters in Australia putting a new spin on the history they share with Irish nuns?
By recasting themselves online as seekers of justice they hope you don’t know of their role in more than a century of hidden imprisonment of vulnerable girls in Australia’s infamous Magdalene Laundries. When they say their doctrines promote freedom, do we infer that hypocrisy is their policy as a means to deceive and deflect criticism? Their new website says they’ve commissioned Anti-Slavery Australia to route out “hidden exploitation.” The Australian Good Shepherd’s historical perpetration of “hidden exploitation” in Magdalene Laundries no doubt informs their expertise. Disclosure: As a recipient of ‘hidden exploitation’ in their hands, so does mine!
In 1967, inside the dark-walled Dickensian world they ruled supreme, the Good Shepherd nuns suggested that I might just as well give up school. I was just fourteen. It occurred to me that school was mandatory till age fifteen so I claimed it not only as my right, but also as a way to get a few hours out of forced labor in their thundering, antiquated laundry. How had I come to this dreadful place?
Like so many others I’d run away from home following a particularly brutal and life threatening attack by my father, (who had abused me physically, psychologically and sexually for years). Having turned myself into the Welfare I was subsequently dispatched (under the signature of my parents) to endure extra-judicial imprisonment and forced labor in a Magdalene Laundry run by the Sisters of the Good Shepherd in suburban North Plympton, South Australia (1941-74.)
There, I was treated as defiled and forced to work in the laundry under the blind eye of the State of South Australia and the noses of god-fearing South Australian citizens. Out-of-sight-out-of-mind.
I was just one of tens of thousands of vulnerable girls stigmatized as “fallen,” herded like sheep to the slaughterhouse that was the Catholic solution. Those in charge of the Convent of the Good Shepherd were carrying out a mandate to get wanton, lost girls and women off the streets where they might contaminate society. The nuns’ constant vilification branded us-as livestock are branded-by fire. We were treated as mere objects of contempt, there to earn our wretched keep in Magdalene Infernos around the world.
The advocacy group, Justice for Magdalenes, brought the issue to the attention of the United Nations Committee Against Torture eventually resulting in the Irish State’s recognition of culpability this year. (Australia has yet to address this, other than the 2009-sweeping apology to all of those mistreated in care during the last century.) Imagine my disbelief when I find the Good Shepherds using words like: Hope, Action, Justice to obscure their unpardonable history as slave-drivers of the most vulnerable girls society could serve up to them, presumably hoping to gain cred by awarding the writer Sushi Das (well placed as the Opinion Editor of The Age,) an award-on International Woman’s Day.
Have the Good Shepherds Nuns “lost their way?” Their idea of themselves as altruistic shepherds saving young “fallen” girls from themselves by herding them into hard labor was and is condescending, antiquated, disingenuous and the results have been horrific and gravely injurious. Why don’t they come clean about their dirty laundry? I believe the church is afraid that survivors seeking restorative justice will cause the revelation of hard facts resulting in potential donors to beginning to see their current Anti Slavery crusade as same old… sanitized with PC language.
On their newly branded Good Shepherd website, Noelene White writes: “…the work of Good Shepherd Sisters and mission partners […], isn’t that different to what Good Shepherd has done since the Order began in France in 1835.” [Italics mine]
I suggest that the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the Good Shepherd nuns’ arrival in Australia be seized as a time for the Good Shepherd Sisters to explore how they lost their way and an opportunity to taste the penitence and humility they so zealously forced upon those in their care. Let their archives be opened and those pitiful records studied. Let there be restorative justice for all those who suffered in the Good Shepherds’ Magdalene Laundries worldwide!
Give the laundry girls their compo
Rights watchdog: State acted wrongfully
SURVIVORS of the Magdalene Laundries should get compensation including unpaid wages, pensions and rehab, a watchdog has insisted.
In yesterday’s follow-up report to Martin McAleese’s laundries probe, the Irish Human Rights Commission said the State failed to protect women and girls sent to the institutions.
And IHRC commissioner Professor Siobhan Mullally said the McAleese inquiry fell short of drawing conclusions on the State’s obligations.
She added: “The State acted wrongfully in failing to protect these women by not putting in place adequate mechanisms to prevent such violations, and by failing to respond to their allegations over a protracted period.”
Good Shepherd Sisters denying history
By Adele Chynoweth – posted Wednesday, 19 June 2013
From the link: http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=15140
The recent claims, by lawyer and lobbyist Bryan Keon-Cohen, that the Catholic Church is a law unto itself in its resistance of governmental responses to child abuse, could be applied to Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand.
On the 22nd of this month, Good Shepherd, an organisation established by the Good Shepherd Sisters has scheduled a Festival at Abbotsford Convent in Melbourne in order to celebrate 150 years since the Good Shepherd Sisters arrived in Australia. The problem is that the summary, by Trish Carroll, Good Shepherd Mission Leader, of the history of the organisation, conveniently excludes the work of the Sisters in the twentieth century. So allow me to fill in the resounding gap.
There are no precise figures for the number of girls who slaved in the eight Magdalene laundries, run by the Good Shepherd Sisters, in twentieth century Australia because Good Shepherd has not released their records. We do know, as a result of the Federal Senate reportForgotten Australians (2004) that the Good Shepherd laundries in Australia acted as prisons for the girls who were forced to labour in workhouses laundering linen for local hospitals or commercial premises. The report alsodescribed the conditions as characterised by inedible food, unhygienic living conditions and little or no education. In 2008, in Federal Parliament, Senator Andrew Murray likened the Convent of the Good Shepherd ‘The Pines’, Adelaide to a prisoner-of-war camp.
Post-war Australia was categorised by a new era of nation building led by the conservative Robert Menzies as Prime Minister. There was a perceived need for strict discipline for juveniles. Children could be placed in juvenile detention centres despite not having committed a criminal offence. Further, during this period there was a concern that ‘sexually depraved girls’ could be a cause of delinquency and therefore needed to be separated from the mainstream. As a result of these attitudes, many vulnerable children were criminalised.
Rachael Romero, at the age of 14 in 1967, was incarcerated in ‘The Pines’ for running away from her violent father who had sexually abused her. Rachael could not speak about it publicly for forty years because the Good Shepherd Sisters had branded her as ‘fallen’ and so Rachael had felt besmirched as a result of the abuse that she had endured. Wendy Sutton was admitted to ‘The Pines’ at the age of 13 having suffered physical abuse at the hands of her stepfather and having been sexually molested by a friend of the family.
Janice Konstantinidis was sent, by whom she describes as her ‘sadistic alcoholic father’ at the age of 12 to work in the laundry at Mount Saint Canice, run by the Good Shepherd Sisters in Tasmania. Janice remembers the girl who broke her back in an escape attempt by jumping through a window. The girls were told later that after being discharged from hospital that she was sent to Lachlan Park Hospital, a secure mental asylum.
Maureen Cuskelly was sent to Abbotsford Convent at the age of three because her mother was suffering from a mental illness. Later at the age of 13, in 1968, she was sent to work in the laundry at St Aidan’s Bendigo, run by the Good Shepherd Sisters. When she left, at the age of 17, her hands were damaged from years of repetitive sheet folding, in the afternoons, and her being forced to clean floors with an industrial polisher every morning.
The Good Shepherd Festival at Abbotsford this month also includes a ‘ReunionAfternoon Tea for all former residents of Good Shepherd institutions’.
I asked Maureen if she would be going, “I don’t know about that. There is not one plaque at Abbotsford about us. It’s all about them. They make me so mad. There has been no apology. No acknowledgement”.
“I went to a reunion before and they say ‘The nuns did their best at the time’. But they didn’t do their best. They were cruel. We were always hungry and cold. Girls were beaten or locked on their own in dark cells. But the worse thing they did was not let me see my brother and sister in the other section of the Convent. I got punished for waving at them”.
The Senate Inquiry into Forgotten Australians (2004) revealed that the abuse of children continued throughout institutions because a nation espoused an uncritical admiration of the work of charities and churches. Who was watching those charged with the care of Australia’s vulnerable children? We can take account now. Many Forgotten Australians have fought emotional adversity and physical scars or injuries to participate in a society that abandoned them as children. Our history needs to acknowledge the causal factors that produced such adversity so as to deflect the shame and stigma from survivors. Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand, whose slogan is “Justice, Compassion, Reconciliation, Respect, Dignity” can assist this reparation by focusing less on their public relations campaign, more on writing an authentic record and through the initiation of a genuine reconciliation process with former child slaves of their twentieth century laundries.
Maureen reminds us the significance of the current Good Shepherd’s edited history, “They’re burying what they did. They’re burying our history. They’re burying the truth”.
Call for Magdalene Laundry inquiry in NI
Former residents of Magdalene Laundries in Northern Ireland are calling for an inquiry into their abuse allegations.
Published Wednesday, 29 May 2013
It is thought hundreds of people across the region could come forward with their claims of abuse if a new investigation is established, or the current inquiry amended.
The current Historical Institutional Abuse inquiry does not cover victims of clerical child abuse and former residents of Magdalene Laundry-type institutions in NI.
But on Wednesday, they will gather to ask for the terms of that inquiry to be extended to include them.
They are backed by Amnesty International, and Patrick Corrigan from the organisation said it is now time for NI’s politicians to take further action.
He explained: “We are now coming to them with those other issues too, particular groups who have been left out of the current inquiry, children who have been abused at community or parish level, and women who were incarcerated effectively in those Magdalene Laundry-type institutions, and who suffered abuse not as children, but as adults.
“It’s now time for the Executive and the Assembly to turn their attention to justice and truth for those groups too.”
Many of these people are now in advanced years and they’ve had to live with shame, with stigma and they’ve a dark shadow cast over the whole of their lives, and a feeling that nobody wanted to know them and nobody was there when they were most vulnerable in their lives.
For the victims of abuse, Mr Corrigan said they want the state to acknowledge “the pain they went through”.
He added: “They now want to turn to our political representatives, and we are asking today for those leaders to listen to those victims now as adults, and to give them the truth, the justice and the acknowledgement that they crave before they finally pass away themselves.”
The current inquiry is investigating allegations of abuse at 35 sites across NI, including state-run children’s homes, institutions run by the Catholic Church, borstals, and institutions run by Protestant churches or voluntary sector organisations.
The three-year review, chaired by Sir Anthony Hart, could cost up to £19m.
After hearing from the alleged victims, an acknowledgement forum panel will produce a report to Sir Anthony detailing the claims.
Earlier this year, Taoiseach Enda Kenny described the Magdalene Laundries as “the nation’s shame”.
Speaking in the Irish government, Mr Kenny apologised to the victims of abuse after a report found thousands of women forced into the workhouses were physically and verbally abused.
The 18-month inquiry found 10,000 single mothers, women, and girls as young as 11 were forced into detention, mostly in the for-profit laundries. More than 2,000 women were sent to the laundries by the Irish authorities.
Some were detained for petty crime, others for disability, or pregnancy outside marriage.
State ward regularly beaten by nuns, inquiry told
A former ward of the state say she and other young girls were regularly beaten by nuns at a convent in Ballarat in the 1950s and 60s.
Gabrielle Short told the Victorian child abuse inquiry she thought she was going to die from the abuse at Nazareth House.
She says many girls who spent time there have significant health and psychological issues as a result of their treatment.
“Many times a nun would come out of nowhere and just start belting into us with her stick, across the head and kicking us at the same time,” she said.
“I remember many times being beaten so bad I could not get back up off the floor.
“My head head would be spinning and my legs would feel so weak I felt like I had no blood in my head.”
The inquiry also heard from Gordon Hill, who spent 15 years in the St Joseph’s boys home in Ballarat from the age of two.
He told the inquiry he was also sexually abused and beaten by nuns and priests.
Mr Hill says the abuse started when he was five.
“It went on until I was about 11. Then I went on to the next section and thank god it stopped,” he said.
“But a couple of priests who were there used to love certain kids.”