An Irish woman who was sent to work at a Magdalene Laundry at the age of 11 and left uneducated and malnourished has won a battle for compensation.

Mary Cavner, 80, was initially told she was ineligible for compensation but will now receive €76,000 ($85,430), the BBC reports.

Cavner was separated from her siblings and sent to the Good Shepherd Convent in Sunday’s Well, Co. Cork after her father died. For the six years she was there, Cavner was denied an education and experienced long-term hunger while cleaning, working in the laundries, taking care of babies and preparing meals for nuns.

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"They held me there and worked me until I was nearly 18," said Cavner, who now lives in New Milton, Hampshire, and is a mother of five.

"We weren't allowed to talk or associate with anybody else."

The Irish government has so far awarded 770 former residents of the laundries  more than €29.8m ($33.5m) in compensation.

Cavner was initially told that she would not receive compensation because the laundry she was sent to was not eligible under the government's redress scheme.

After a lengthy legal battle, she complained to the Irish ombudsman, which  recommended that the redress scheme be extended.

"I had never mentioned what happened to me to my husband or my children, so it took all of my courage to admit what I had been through and then they called me a liar," Cavner said.

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"My experience in the laundry left me unable to communicate properly.

"I have had really low points as they have made me live this again and to be accused of not telling the truth made me feel rejected."

The Irish Department of Justice and Equality awarded Cavner a lump sum of €50,000 ($56,200) and a further €26,000 ($29,225) to be distributed in incremental payments.

Cavner said her victory was "bittersweet" and her fight was "never about getting compensation," but to "hold those who made me stay in the laundry to account.”

Children and women in the Magdalene Laundries.Wikicommons