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           Margaret was raped by her cousin, Bernadette flirted with boys during recess at her orphanage, while Rose had a baby out of wedlock. All three girls were forcibly removed to the Magdalene Laundry as "penitents" to save their souls. But this Irish convent is really a slave labor camp run by a sadomasochistic nun named Bridget. The film, set in the late 1960s, follows the stories of these three girls, and the institutionalized brutality they experienced. Physical torture, sexual exploitation, and psychological humiliation were their lot, and the lot, we learn from a film trailer, of some 30,000 women detained at similar laundries throughout Ireland from the 1880s until the closure of the last one in 1996. Some of these women spent a lifetime in these prisons. It goes without saying that this film is not representative of the church or its clergy; many people had wonderfully loving experiences growing up Catholic (or Protestant). Others have objected that the film trades in shallow stereotypes. But this is part of our Christian history; the film is based on survivor accounts, and some of the survivors have said reality was worse than the film's version. No amount of pious platitudes can cover it up. This is a powerful and deeply disturbing film about how some Christians have committed and then justified horrendous evil, all in the name of God.

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