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Thursday, 20 February, 2003, 09:24 GMT
Magdalene Sisters: Your views
The Magdalene Sisters
The dramatisation of life in the laundry is bleak
The Magdalene Sisters won the Golden Lion best film award at the Venice film festival and has provoked controversy among many Catholics.

The story of the notorious Magdalene Laundries depicts a harsh life of punishment for girls looked after by nuns in rural Ireland.

"This fictional account is at once thought-provoking, deeply moving and disturbing," wrote BBC News Online's Margaret Ryan.

"It richly deserves to have won the prestigious title of Golden Lion best film award at the Venice film festival," she added.

But what do you think? Has the controversy overshadowed the film? Is it a fair depiction of life with the nuns?

Have your say

Having seen the movie last night I had to get online to find out more about this terrible crime against these women. How and why are questions that the church orders must answer but once again will they get away without any apologies-discussion on the matter. Our thoughts are with the survivors and non-survivors of the laundries.
Maureen Janssen, Germany

This is the most depressing film I have seen since Polanski's The Pianist, the most shocking moment being when you read that the last known example of a girl being committed to one of these convents was 1996. Some of the scenes may be grossly exaggerated but the fact that there is a single grain of truth behind it, that young women could be treated in this way in such recent history, is unbearable - I can only hope that any man who has seen this film feels the same way.

I come from a Presbyterian Scottish family where the word sex was taboo and many such families may have ostracised any daughter of theirs who got herself pregnant but I'm 100% sure my parents would never have sent me to such a place. Did the Irish know what was going on in there?
Sheila, Scotland

I saw this film last night and felt completely empty when leaving the cinema. How can we criticise eastern countries when such things have been going on under our noses in the West? If there is a God how can he except such conditions. I would like to hear how Catholics, especially Irish Catholics can justify such actions!
Mark Donnelly, France

Whilst the mistreatment of these women must be condemned, I am disgusted that Mullan has not made any reference to the historical context in which Magdalene Laundries were established - namely deValera's misogynistic ethos. One must remember that these women were not captured and dragged to the Laundries but were, for the most part, brought there by their own families. As unbelievable as it may seem to us now, there really was no other place for these women to go. They simply were not accepted in society thanks to the strict church-state relationship, fostered by deValera and enshrined in a constitution which maintains that a women's place is in the home.

Mullan has gone for sensation and the end result is a dire film, overloaded with melodrama and, in the case of Crispina, some truly awful ham acting.

What I found most disturbing, apart from the utter humiliation suffered by the young internees, was the absolute waste of a life suffered by the older women in these institutions. How could their suffering have been tolerated by Irish Catholics for so long?
Margaret Denness, England

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14 Feb 03 | Reviews
09 Sep 02 | Film
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