Liberate Grace is an impartial advocacy group aiming to uncover and seek retribution for the coerced sterilization of a young Irish woman, named Grace, by the Irish National Health Service. Grace was coerced into being sterilised by the hospital during a medical visit, causing her immense physical and emotional pain. Liberate Grace is a movement that promotes the rights and dignity of Grace and opposes practices and ideologies that undermine the human rights of women and vulnerable individuals in both Ireland and Europe.
Grace's situation represents a shocking example of how the state can abuse its power and authority over the lives and bodies of people. Grace's coerced sterilisation breached her reproductive rights, her right to privacy, autonomy, health, information, and consent. It constituted a violent and discriminatory act that stripped her of her autonomy and voice and caused irreparable damage to her well-being.
The sterilisation of Grace, which occurred against her will, was not an uncommon occurrence nor a singular case, but instead a portrayal of the systemic issue within the Irish Health System and society. As per the findings of Liberate Grace, there are likely hundreds, if not thousands, of women who have recently suffered similar abuses at the hands of the Irish Health System, particularly those belonging to disadvantaged groups such as people with disabilities. Quality healthcare, information, and justice are frequently not available to these women, who are treated as commodities to be mercified.
Grace presently resides in a nursing home which receives payment from the Irish Health System for providing her with care. In principle, Grace could live independently with her partner and only some financial support from the Irish Health System, but this would not offer significant funding to the nursing home industry. This situation raises concerns regarding the possibility of exploiting vulnerable individuals, such as women with disabilities, for profit.
This is reminiscent of the Magdalene Laundries in Ireland, which operated from the 18th to the late 20th centuries as purported rehabilitation centres for "fallen women". In reality, they confined and abused an estimated 30,000 women until just two decades ago. These institutions, also known as Magdalene asylums, echo the practices of historical, discriminatory contexts. The Irish government previously sent women to asylums, consisting of patients in psychiatric hospitals and wards of the State.
Also, up to 2,000 infants were illegally sent from Magdalene laundries in Ireland to adoptive families in the United States, predominantly affluent families. A significant number of these individuals are now seeking accountability for their biological parents and a formal acknowledgement from the Irish government, whom they accuse of being entirely involved in hiding the truth. The kids were taken away from their mothers through deceitful means when they were working in conditions close to slavery in the Magdalene Laundry system sanctioned by the Irish government.
From the inception of the Irish Free State until 1996, no fewer than 10,000 women were detained with the assistance of the Irish national police force, and compelled to perform unpaid work while facing significant psychological and physical abuse within Ireland's Magdalene Institutions. These were essentially penal institutions that ran commercial and for-profit businesses, mainly laundries. On paper, the last Magdalene Laundry ceased operating on 25th October 1996. However, in reality, survivors of the laundries were often forgotten and left without fair compensation for their suffering.
In 2017, the United Nations criticized the Irish Government for not implementing its recommendations to investigate allegations of ill-treatment of women in Magdalene Laundries. Additionally, the UN Committee against Torture expressed disapproval of the Government's inability to prosecute perpetrators and ensure that victims have an enforceable right to compensation. Liberate Grace is an initiative that promotes the rights and freedoms of Grace and other women who have experienced similar injustices.
Liberate Grace collaborates with civil society and local communities involved in social justice, human rights, and democracy across various European countries. The organisation's aim is to eradicate all types of discrimination experienced by Grace and guarantee her access to the rights and freedoms granted in the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (CFREU). Liberate Grace also intends to refer any liable individuals to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in Strasbourg and the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU-CVRIA) in Luxembourg for breaches concerning the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (CFREU).
Liberate Grace receives various forms of support from its friends and supporters. One way is through volunteering as "Grace's Friends," who serve as messengers of Liberate Grace's values and goals. Another way is by donating to specific actions planned by Liberate Grace or making voluntary contributions via the website.
Liberate Grace serves as a strong symbol of how civil society can be mobilised to defend human rights and dignity against State oppression and violence. The movement is not only seeking justice for Grace but also striving for liberation for all women who face violations by the State or part of the society, whilst opposing the dehumanisation of women.
The Italian version of the Liberate Grace website is currently available, with an English translation in progress. Additional translations in French, German, and Spanish are also scheduled.
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About the Creator
Liberate Grace is an advocacy initiative which was established to publicly condemn and legally pursue the abuse experienced by a young woman named Grace who was forcibly sterilised by the Irish Health Service. https://www.liberategrace.com