Archive photography of young girls outside a Magdalene Laundry

Read more: Irish Attorney General to examine Magdalene Laundries report

An advocacy group for the survivors of the Magdalene laundry has made a submission to the United Nations Committee Against Torture.

For the first time the UN Committee plans to examine Ireland with relations to human rights obligation to prevent torture, other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. They will meet on May 23rd and 24th.

Justice for Magdalenes, advocacy group,  wants to draw the Committee's attentions to Ireland's legal duties under the Convention Against Torture, have them investigate allegations of torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and to ensure redress for the victims of such treatment.

Maeve O'Rourke, author of JFM's submission, and Harvard Law School 2010 Global Human Rights Fellow, said "The submission highlights the continuing degrading treatment that the women who spent time in Magdalene Laundries are suffering today because of the government's ongoing failure to apologize, investigate and compensate for the abuse.

For almost two years JFM has worked with various government departments advocating for survivors’ needs. 

Chair of the Irish Women’s Support Network, London, and Member of JFM’s Advisory Committee, Councillor Sally Mulready, said "The women were deprived of their liberty, and forced into a form of penal and religious servitude.  Compelled to work in the harshest of conditions, they never knew if they would ever again see the outside world again.”

Professor James Smith, Member of JFM’s Advisory Committee, added “we have waited nearly six months for the government’s response to the Irish Human Rights Commission’s unambiguous recommendation to initiate a statutory inquiry on this issue…Simply put, some of these women may not have another six months to wait.  The time for action is now!”

The submission of this report coincides with the airing of a Joe Duffy documentary on RTE's Radio One (the national broadcaster). A woman who spent her life in institutions in Ireland, including the Magdalene laundry spoke on "Were You There".

Mary Smith's mother was brought to the laundry while pregnant with her. She said that she finds it utterly impossible to forgive those responsible. She said "there is no God . . . Jesus had it easy . . . I would have preferred being crucified to what I’ve been through”.

Read more: Irish Attorney General to examine Magdalene Laundries report