Today, October 25: Seeking Justice for the Women of Ireland’s Magdalene Laundries

Event poster shows an image of an old hospital in Ireland that appears to be a Margdalene Laundry. In front of the building is a statute of an angel. Overlaid with the image is the event information.

October 25, 2011

“Abuse by Church and State: The Hidden Story of Ireland’s Magdalene Laundries”

A Talk by Maeve O’Rourke, 2010 Global Human Rights fellow
and James M. Smith, Author and Associate Professor of English, Boston College

12:00- 1:15 pm

Lewis Hall 302

Maeve O’Rourke, LLM ’10, and Associate Professor James M. Smith, author of Ireland’s Magdalen Laundries and the Nation’s Architecture of Containment, will discuss their legal campaign for an investigation into- and reparations for- the abuse of thousands of girls and women in Ireland’s church-run Magdalene laundry institutions from 1922 – 1996.

Prof. Smith will explain the workings of the Magdalene Laundries, which incarcerated vulnerable girls and women including those considered to be “fallen” and subjected them to forced unpaid labor.  He will also reveal the Irish State’s interactions with the laundry system.  Maeve will discuss the legal case she presented to the UN Committee against Torture (UNCAT) in May 2011, the resulting UNCAT recommendations, and the Irish government’s response to date. She will also share some experiences of the Magdalene Laundries from women who gave their testimony for the UN submission.

This event is being co-sponsored by Harvard Law Students for Reproductive Justice, HLS Advocates for Human Rights, and the Harvard Women’s Law Association.