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Shaped by Silence

Grenfell sociology professor collects Magdalene survivor stories

Research | Books at Memorial

Shaped by Silence: Stories from Inmates of the Good Shepherd Laundries and Reformatories brings together the powerful stories of five women from Ireland, Canada, and Australia whose lives were shaped by forced confinement in Magdalene laundries and other institutions operated by the Roman Catholic Order of Sisters of the Good Shepherd.

Their narratives include one teenager’s experience in a Good Shepherd training school in Canada; another story of a child who was born in a Canadian Good Shepherd laundry; and three accounts of adolescent girls held in Good Shepherd Magdalene laundries in Ireland and Australia.

Regime of abuse

In these institutions, women and girls became a coerced workforce.

Hard, unpaid and relentless physical toil, isolation, enforced silence and prayer constituted the nuns’ strategy for converting their “fallen” charges into the Christian image of pure womanhood.

Within this regime, girls and women suffered physical, psychological and emotional abuse. While intimately capturing the dark and enduring after-effects of ill-treatment, the stories recounted in Shaped by Silence also describe survivors’ efforts to heal and rebuild their lives.

Systemic cruelty and exploitation

This important book, authored by Dr. Rie Croll, associate professor of sociology at Memorial University, Grenfell Campus, shines a light on a pervasive and systemic pattern of cruelty and exploitation.

It reveals the unwarranted confinement of generations of girls and women in Good Shepherd institutions around the world and constitutes a call for full acknowledgement of their suffering.

Shaped by Silence: Stories from Inmates of the Good Shepherd Laundries and Reformatories is published by ISER Books. ISER Books is the publishing division of the Institute of Social and Economic Research in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at Memorial University.

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