Apologise to Exiled Children, Say MPs Broken Families: Post-War `Misguided Social Policy' Led to Brutality, Sex Abuse and Isolation in Colonies
Glenda Cooper Social Affairs Correspondent, The Independent (London, England)
CHILDREN WHO were sent half way across the world as "cheap labour", often without their parents' knowledge or consent, must be given help to trace their family and visit the land of their birth, MPs said yesterday.
They urged the Government to make a formal apology to the child migrants, thousands of whom were sent to colonies as late as the 1960s, for the "irreversible, irrevocable damage . . . of this misguided social policy".
A report by the Commons health select committee found evidence of sexual and physical abuse, hardship and denial of basic human rights in the histories of the migrants who were sent to Australia, New Zealand and Canada to become labourers or domestic servants.
Children were sent abroad as young as three. Hardly any were orphans. One migrant who had been in voluntary care recalled a scene at a railway station in which his mother, desperate to get him back, struggled with a nun on the platform while he was taken away by train.
Another stated that "most of us have been left with broken hearts and broken lives". The committee took evidence from migrants - who had been told, wrongly, that their parents were dead - of being beaten, raped, treated as slave labour and given inadequate food, clothing and shoes. Often their names were changed and they were not told of their true identity or even their birthday.
"These children were placed in large, often isolated, institutions and were often subjected to harsh, sometimes intentionally brutal, regimes of work and …
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Publication information: Article title: Apologise to Exiled Children, Say MPs Broken Families: Post-War `Misguided Social Policy' Led to Brutality, Sex Abuse and Isolation in Colonies. Contributors: Glenda Cooper Social Affairs Correspondent - Author. Newspaper title: The Independent (London, England). Publication date: July 31, 1998. Page number: 11. © 2009 The Independent - London. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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