Springingtiger's Blog


The Girl Who Cried Herself To Sleep

I once knew a girl who cried herself to sleep every night. As a teenage, unmarried mother, her baby had been taken from her and given up for adoption. The world moved on, but she cried herself to sleep because she never forgot. Her story is not something about which I think often; however today I saw the film “Philomena”, based on Martin Sixsmith’s book “The Lost Child of Philomena Lee”. In the film Philomena, played by Judy Dench, wants to know if the child that was taken from her ever thought of her because, “I thought of him everyday”. The film is but one story of the impact the Magdalene Laundries had on unmarried mother’s and their children. Now the sad story of the Magdalenes is well known, but what we often forget is that the laundries were just an extreme  manifestation of an attitude prevalent in both Ireland and the United Kingdom well into the Nineteen Sixties. The girl I knew lost her child considerably later than Philomena,  in England not Ireland,  with a supportive family, but the pain never left her.

Even now illigitimacy carries some stigma, half a century ago it was seen as evil and the girls had little choice but to surrender their children. The girls were deprived of choice as though they were incapable of making their own decisions. Then abortion was not an option, now it is. However there are those who treat those who choose abortion as evil, but if the girls keep their children they are condemned as scroungers manipulating the benefits system. I know girls who have chosen to abort, contrary to popular opinion it was not an easy decision. Personally I believe that we are all responsible for each abortion because we create the societal attitudes that, to some extent, compel the decision. What I know from knowing girls who gave up children and others who aborted, is that these girls are not uncaring or even irresponsible, they are the victim of circumstances and, often an unguarded moment. However there are others who had no choice, the conception arose from unwanted, forced acts by men who are wholly to blame. Rape is not “assault by a friendly weapon” it is a violation of a woman’s identity and the scars last for life. However a girl conceives, the last thing she needs is condemnation, she needs support and understanding. The choices a girl makes faced with an unplanned pregnancy will colour the rest of her life. I say that no girl should have to cry herself to sleep every night, no, not now, no, never again!

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