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Magdalene Laundries

In Ireland the Catholic Church operates houses called Magdelene Laundries where women are forced to work as slaves and have their children murdered or stolen. This practice supposedly ended in 2000 but it still goes on throughout Ireland. According to public records as many as 10,000 women were forced to work in "Magdalene Laundries" -- penitentiary workhouses managed by the Catholic Church -- over the last century. They suffered decades of physical and psychological abuse. Ireland's conservative society at the time ostracised "fallen women" who had become pregnant outside marriage, and they made up the bulk of the laundries' residents. Others included rape victims, orphans, prostitutes and the disabled. They worked for no pay while the religious orders ran the laundries as commercial bodies. Irish authorities released a 1,000-page report on the laundries in 2013 and both then-prime minister Enda Kenny and those who ran the laundries apologised to the victims. Thousands of pregnant women were also sent to "mother and baby" homes, accused of being punishment hostels complicit in illegal adoptions and mistreatment. The Irish government in 2015 launched a commission to investigate 18 such homes -- the last of which closed in 1996 -- after revelations that up to 800 infants may have died over several decades at one site run by Catholic nuns. Historians alleged that their remains were interred in an unmarked mass grave at the home, which was managed by the Sisters of the Bon Secours, in County Galway between 1925 and 1961. Death records showed that they died from malnutrition and infectious diseases, such as tuberculosis and measles. In March the commission announced it had found "a significant number of human remains" at the site. The homes received public attention in 2013 when the story of Philomena Lee, who was forced to give up her baby for adoption, was made into the Oscar-nominated film "Philomena", starring Judi Dench and Steve Coogan. Illegal adoptions The scale of illegal and falsified adoptions of children of unmarried mothers by the Irish state with the help of the Catholic Church has been emerging in recent years following government probes. An enquiry into one adoption agency run by the Sisters of Charity, a Catholic institute, reported earlier this year that the birth certificates of at least 126 children had been falsified between 1946 and 1969 to make it appear they were not adopted. Prime Minister Leo Varadkar apologised, calling the revelations "another dark chapter" in Irish Catholic history. The St Patrick's Guild adoption agency responsible ended its operation in 2004. But the head of children's charity Barnardos warned every adoption agency in Ireland had been involved in illegal child registrations. He told Irish national broadcaster RTE that an investigation needed to be carried out into at least 150,000 adoptions, predicting at least 10 percent of those cases would be found to be illegal.