When I was a girl I was aware of the appalling fear of pregnancy in all my friends....it was a stigma that we all knew about.
When my best friend disappeared from school we were about thirteen. I went to look for her and her mother opened the door, peered out and asked me if my mother knew I was there....she didn't . I was told to go home and get her permission.
My mum was very definite.. I was not to go back. I got the lecture about not going out with boys and she was adamant, it was dangerous because boys only wanted one thing. That one thing was never spelt out.....I was just not to even go to the pictures with them.
The whole thing was discussed at length in school. It was all both a bit of a mystery and also exciting...thirteen year olds were very ignorant in those days.
I set too. I was a good knitter and I bought some wool and made some bootees. I had to walk past my friends house on my way home from school. I delivered the baby things one afternoon when I knew her mother would be out.
My friend was glad to see me but she was also frightened....what had happened to her had filled her with shame and her mother had told her that she would have to go away for her confinement. To a mother and baby home.
In the end she had the baby at home but her terror at being sent away was all too clear. It kept me very frightened of falling pregnant myself.....I was off boys for a very long time.
Now hearing of what had happened to those unwanted babies in some homes is just terrible to hear.
Babies removed from their mothers were not sent off to loving homes. They died and were buried in unmarked graves. In one report from Ireland there were also the bones of toddlers as well as new born babies!
This was apparently acceptable in the climate of guilt and fear found in those "homes" meant for the safety of the poor girls who ended up in them.
It makes it worse that they were sometimes run by nuns.
What version of Christianity could cover the killing or neglecting of the babies whose bodies have been found buried in ancient graveyards?
I am glad our collective consciousness has travelled such a long way away from that stigma which ruined the lives of so many young girls..
But what happened to the babies needs to be addressed. Sooner rather than later!
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