LONDON – About 9,000 children have died in church-run homes for unmarried mothers, according to a government report released on Tuesday. This equates to 15 percent of all children born or living in the institutions under investigation for nearly 80 years. years.
The 3,000-page report also describes the emotional abuse that women have been subjected to in so-called maternity homes, especially when they have given birth.
“It seems that a little kindness has been shown to them and this is especially the case when they give birth,” it said.
Homes for mothers and babies, many of which are run by nuns and members of the Catholic Church, functioned for most of the 20th century, the last home being closed only in 1
The report finds that the responsibility for the harsh treatment of women who have given birth out of wedlock lies mainly with the fathers of their children and their close families. However, he added that the treatment is supported, contributed and justified by state institutions and churches.
“We did this to ourselves, we treated women extremely badly,” Irish Taoisic, or the prime minister, told reporters Michel Martin told reporters Tuesday afternoon after the report was published. “The whole society was complicit in this.”
Martin added that the report revealed “significant failures” and should be a catalyst for social change.
The Commission for the Investigation of Homes for Mothers and Babies also examined allegations that some children in the homes had been used in vaccination trials without parental consent for their participation.
The report identifies seven such vaccine studies, which included a “number of children” conducted between 1934 and 1973 in maternity and infant homes.
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A former resident of one of the homes spoke to NBC News and said she was used as a “guinea pig” for vaccines at a home in Cork before being adopted by a family in Philadelphia in 1961.
The report adds that it is clear that the relevant regulatory and ethical standards of the time were not met, as no consent was obtained from either the children’s mothers or their guardians and the necessary licenses were not available.
All homes under investigation are already closed.
Institutions have taken women who are pregnant out of wedlock, taboo in the conservative country and seen as an attempt to preserve the country’s pious Catholic image. Homes are now a byword for a dark chapter in the nation’s history, say Irish politicians and survivors.
Amateur local historian Catherine Corles first shed light on the issue of home abuse.
She discovered a marked mass grave in Tuam, in western Galway County, which sparked an investigation that revealed the remains of at least 700 children buried between 1925 and 1961, a report found in 2017.
Ireland’s Department of Children told NBC News before the report was released that it would be a “significant moment for many thousands of former residents and their families”.
Prior to the publication, however, details of the report were leaked to the media, sparking outrage from the victims – including mother and baby survivor Philomena Lee, whose story was featured in a 2013 film starring Dame Judy Dench.
Ireland has traditionally been a Catholic stronghold, but decades of abusive scandals have damaged the church’s reputation and weakened its influence.
Pope Francis asks for forgiveness for the scandal with the homes for mothers and babies during his first papal visit to the country in almost four decades in 2018.
The Clann project, an initiative of groups of survivors working to establish the truth about what happened in homes, said before the report was published that the government should recognize “the shame and stigma imposed on unmarried mothers and their children through government policies and practices. “
He also called on the Irish government to encourage the Catholic Church to recognize responsibility and participate in the process of reparations for victims.
Reuters contributed to this report.
Helena Skinner contributed.