The response by the Irish government to the horrific stain on history that is the Magdalene Laundries is woefully inadequate. A mere apology cannot undo the painful abuse that these women for forced to suffer, and does nothing to help these women along their healing process.
Apologies are cheap and easy, and provide little beyond short-term comfort. They do not, however, provide the very real and sorely needed counseling and medical and financial help these deeply wounded women need and deserve.
The report issued by Dr. Martin McAleese shows that these women were detained under false pretenses and slandered with accusations of false crimes. They were exploited as free labor, and were abused daily. Such inhumane treatment would no doubt require years of expensive therapy and has surely impacted - and still impacts - the daily lives of these wounded women.
Given how damning this report is, real steps to help the victims of the Magdalene Laundries should be taken immediately. As a first step, funds should be set up for those who were hurt so that they can pay for therapy and health care. Secondly, efforts should be made to reach out to every woman that was forced to live at these laundries and make them aware of victim’s advocates groups where they can get help. They also should point them in the direction of support groups where they can connect with other survivors and help each other heal.
We hope that the Irish government goes beyond the bare minimum step that they took today. For the sake of these thousands of victims, we hope they take better steps quickly.