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Migrants from the UK return for justice

January 2014, 20
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Elder Women from UK

A case is currently underway in Northern Ireland regarding the abuse, exploitation and unorthodox treatment of children between the 1920’s-1990’s in state run homes and institutes.

Many children found themselves in these institutes if they suffered destitution without it. The UK had no benefit system until the 1950’s and even then it was nothing like it is now, benefits were extremely difficult to get and came with a huge stigma attached to them, meaning many people suffered in silence. If these people had babies and no way of providing for them they could hand them over to the authorities who promised a better life ahead. For many this was not the case.

Institutes ran all over the UK and Ireland and they were orphanages, reformatories, unmarried mothers homes and detention centers. Some people were here due to being pregnant out of wedlock, some for stealing a loaf of bread to feed their starving siblings, some due to their parents passing away, some for their own protection. They were given ‘sentences’ depending on their ‘crime’ and some were held indefinitely.

Those who were not were considered the lucky ones, though many of them were much the opposite. Especially in unmarried mother homes, dubbed the Magdalene Laundries, babies who were born to the inmates were farmed out across the world for a fee that went directly to the nuns running the homes. These parents had no vetting services, it was a brutal cut and dry case of if you could afford a baby then you got one.

These babies could go as far as Australia with no protection from the authorities and no contact details of their mothers, no background stories, they were totally at the mercy of their adoptive parents. And many of them did go on to lead wonderfully prosperous lives that wouldn't have been an option at the time in their own countries so migration and adoption was good for them but for many it was not.

The court case in Northern Ireland has sparked investigations into 300 institutes across the United Kingdom about the treatment of those in them. People from all over the world who were themselves in these homes have migrated to the UK to have their hour in court, many have waited over 80 years for justice.

The court case is set to continue for the next fortnight with many more cases coming to light daily, it is reported to be in the excess of 10,000 people who are now considered foreigners that will be seeking the justice and apologies that they should have received when they were at the mercy of the authorities.

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