No country is without sin. And nobody has a clean slate. There are a lot of unpalatable secrets lurking in any country’s history and present. Even though it might be uncomfortable dragging them into the spotlight, acknowledging these less-than-savory facts is the first step to solving the issues in the first place.
The redditors living in Europe opened up about the dark facts about their home countries in a brutally honest thread over on r/AskEurope. These facts might not be for everyone, so fair warning, some of the things you might read are darker than dark.
If you’d like to share some lesser-known dark secrets about your home country, Pandas, you can do so in the comment section once you’re done reading this list.
During the Francoist regime, many single mothers were told their newborn children were dead. They weren’t allowed to see the corpse, and the baby, which wasn’t dead, was given to a married couple. Many years later, the graves of many of these supposedly dead babies were found to be empty. This was done with the absolute cooperation of the Catholic church.
England. I don’t know how unknown this is but Alan Turing who helped to break Nazis’ enigma code was arrested for being gay and was chemically castrated by the government he helped years ago. He was banned from GCHQ and the US which greatly effected his career. He killed himself in 1954.
In Italy a r*pist could marry his victim to avoid any legal persecution (this practice was called “matrimonio riparatore”). The women were pressed to accept the marriage to avoid social shame. Franca Viola, in 1948, was the first woman to refuse to marry her r*pist, but this practice was abolished by law only in 1981.
User u/AkruX explained that they were inspired to create the thread on r/AskEurope after learning that their home country, the Czech Republic (aka Czechia), was at one point ranked the third-worst slavery haven in the entirety of Europe. They were completely shocked by this.
Very recently, Bored Panda spoke to Brooke Burris, who chairs the Tri-County Human Trafficking Task Force in the Charleston area in South Carolina. She went into detail with us about human trafficking. It’s a deep-seated problem that is global, not located in just any one or two countries.
According to Brooke, people care about fighting against human trafficking more when they realize that it’s a local problem.
Sweden used to treat Sami natives in northen Sweden as second class citizens for the longest time and we barely learn about it in school. As late as the 70s Sami children were still forcefully taken from their Sami parents and adopted by Swedish parents to ”make them Swedish”
Norway. How terrible we have suppressed the Sami people and how we forcefully assimilated them in order to “fit in” with the “Norwegian culture”. And how the racism against them still exist very much to this day. They are still treated horrible by Norwegians and we are barely learned anything about their history in our schools.
“The U.S. Dept. of State has recognized that trafficking is a global problem, solved on the local level through a multidisciplinary response. The more local one’s focus on the nature and prevalence of the issue, the better and truer understanding one will have as to both (1) the scale of trafficking and (2) how they specifically can take ownership of the problem and become a part of the solution,” she explained.
The expert noted that human trafficking is a far broader and more complex problem than it’s presented in movies.
“Kidnapping and using physical force/coercion is only one means by which a trafficker can control a victim,” she said.
NOBODY answered from the USA!? SO MANY…but I’ve always thought that how the land was taken from the original inhabitants one of the worst things this ‘land of the free’ has done.
The massacres, the forced relocations, the infecting with smallpox, the loss of their identity as independent peoples…the list just goes on.
Continued up until taking Hawaii away from the ruling monarchy in the 1800’s.
Australia. Basically everything to do with the First Nations/Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Mostly the stolen generations but there was a whole lot more f*cked up sh*t.
Turkey. There is overwhelming violence against women in Turkey. And the first thing [anyone] asks: well, what was she wearing?, what is she doing there this late?
“In fact, according to a report of prosecuted sex trafficking cases in the U.S., 59% of coercive tactics used by traffickers were non-physical, compared to 41% of tactics involving physical coercion. Further, transportation is merely one type of action used by a trafficker,” Brooke told us.
Though it’s unlikely that human trafficking will be fully rooted out globally or in any particular country, it is vital to limit its scope.
“Until the Lord comes, I think evil will always exist in our world. Therefore, if I’m honest, I don’t think we will be able to eradicate human trafficking entirely,” Brooke said that it’s important to keep fighting injustice, but it’s equally vital to be realistic about the scope of the problem.
Spain is only second to Cambodia for missing persons cases that were never resolved.
There is a government run online search tool for finding mass graves.
France. Forced sterilization of intellectually disabled people was a very common thing until the early 2000s. There’s now a law requiring consent since 2001, but I wouldn’t be surprised to learn forced sterilization still happens.
Portugal has massive problem with domestic violence (including femicide and child abuse). Strict catholic patriarchy was THE rule until 1974, so it’s still hanging around in older generations and trickling down on their descendants. And most offenders get off with a slap on the wrist because we still have courts full of old ass judges.
Huge collaboration of Dutch people during WW2 , snitching where people were hiding. Supporting the Nazis, joining the forces.
The Dutch railway company (NS) transported Jews, Sinti and Roma to Germany.
Royal Dutch Shell reported their jewish employees to the Nazis to be deported.
Netherlands. In 1620, the Dutch East India Company committed genocide on the people on the Indonesian Banda Islands, under the flag of the Dutch fleet. Murdered 95% of the population as punishment. Their crime? Selling nutmeg to the Portuguese and the English.
I don’t even like nutmeg that much. Their population still isn’t at the level it was before the genocide.
In Ireland we were under such control of the Catholic church until 2000s. Our constitution was drawn up with their approval and still says that women have a role in the home. Anyway the control of the church meant that the church got away with shielding and transferring paedophile priests ( well known). The not so well known was the following three things outside Ireland are:
Mother and baby homes – This was where unwed mothers were brought. They were a shamed, has their children taken away. The children either died or were adopted illegally to Irish and American families. They also burned their records and one in Tuam Co Galway dumped the bodies of many children who died in a septic tank (tank where sewage is stored from houses not connected to the main sewage system).
Magdalene Laundries – this was where runways and some troubles were brought. They were slaves in a laundry and received nothing and were treated terribly and the religious orders made money off the backs of this slavery. The last one wasn’t closed till the 90s which is messed up.
Also corporal punishment in schools until the late 60s early 70s especially in industrial schools (some of which were for troubled boys and the abuse there was messed up.
So yes we have a dark past. Now it makes sense why there are few young Catholics in Ireland. We don’t mention it much but we know and it makes me ashamed and I’m 25.
Germany. Female genital mutilation in Germany. It makes me incredibly angry as it is an more or less unpunished crime for decades now and nothing is done really.
Every few years, when sombody decides to report about it measures are announced, but nothing will be really done.
The regional languages in France were progressively replaced by French from 1789. Only a few are still remaining (mostly those who aren’t understandable by a French speaker, like Breton, Basque, Corsican, Alsatian, Francoprovençal etc.) but apparently more than 90% of our regional languages are now dead. You only find them in regional accents.
Georgia. State of LGBT rights. They are non-existent, you can easily get killed by religious people and nobody will give a sh*t.
France. I’d say war against colonised Algeria. It is really a shameful thing involving war crimes, torture, … A lot of veterans won’t talk about it because of how ashamed they feel.
Look it up.
King Edward VIII was a Nazi sympathiser; he and his wife visited Germany in the 30s to have dinner with Hitler and inspect SS troops.
In the 60s, he is believed to have said to a friend: “I never thought Hitler was such a bad chap.”
Romania. A few years back there was a scandal of a pediatric doctor that did extremely painful medical experiments on children he was supposed to be treating, such as putting a metal rod near their backs and putting screws into their spines to “fix” scoliosis or something similar with bones he considered weren’t growing properly. He mostly targeted poor families, or families with kids with weird conditions because he figured they wouldn’t be able to or have the power to question his practices.
Also the fact that it’s been revealed several orphanages drug the kids there and tie them to their beds to keep them compliant.
I’ve also read a religious article of an “exorcism” that was performed on a little kid they called posessed because “he would suddenly go very still and start shaking violently” (to anyone with a brain it’s obvious he was just seizing). Instead of following the procedure for a seizure, which is making sure he isn’t in danger of hurting himself by bashing his head or something, they rushed him to a church and placed him on the floor there (and it wasn’t a soft floor by any means).
Or the fact that we’ve had gay people thrown in prison for being gay several years after communism fell (I think either late 90’s or even early 00’s).
Or, not that sinister but just plain stupid and more recent: the church brought “moase” (aka remains of “saints”) during the current pandemic and hundreds of people just lined up to kiss them, all on the same spot too 🙂 (it’s a /s smile, don’t get me wrong).
“Verdingkinder” basically orphans used as slavelabor. They were often mistreated.
There is a movie about it if anyone is intrested
In Ireland homosexuality was only decriminalised in 1993, after a 16 year legal battle which ended up in the European Court of Human Rights in 1988 (it took 5 years to implement the courts ruling).
I guess colonization is a dark time for many countries, in Denmark is was no different, but often you talk about the islands is the Caribbean or Africa, but the treatment of Greenlandic people has been absolutely horrible in Denmark.
They have been treated 2. rank citizens, and everything was dictated from Denmark and they had little to no say in it. Still I have heard that higher education in Greenland is taught in Danish not Greenlandic, but they might have changed that?
Turkey. The years 1980-1983 were very dark years for Turkey – a paranoid nationalist military junta coupled with guerilla warfare in the countryside and massive political repression. Add torture in military prisons, kangaroo courts, and state-funded assassinations to that.
Pardon my French, but the bastard who caused all that died before his jail sentence was approved.
Italy, as many by now know, is a f****d up burocratical nightmare.
Until 1981 there was a law called “Delitto D’Onore” (= Crime in name of someones honor) that stated that people found guilty of kiling someone to maintain the familys reputation would be given a lesser conviction than someone found guilty for the same crime but for other reasons.
If a woman was found committing adultery, it was “legal” to kill her (and her lover in some instances). Of course no one batted an eye when the cheater was the husband. It was extended to families too, the brother or the father could kill a sister/daughter they found out she had an unwedded sexual relationship (EVEN IF SHE WAS SINGLE).
The most (yeah, even more) messed up part was that until 1930 (yeah they realised this was not a top notch idea earlier but still) the husband could kill the children if he knew they weren’t his. (there was a weird legal part where they could be killed only if they were less than 5 days old or wasn’t registred by the state Register… like AH WELL THAT MAKES IT REASONABLE)
I repeat, the law for Honors Killing was in place until 1981!!
And some people still act as if it was reasonable. No wonders we struggle to eradicate what we call “femminicidio” (=femalemurder, is a term used for the death of women that could be prevented if laws against abuse in marriages/relationship was taken seriously and action taken promptly) to this day.
I don’t know if it’s not known but Italy passed racial laws during WWII.
More recent: the “trattativa stato mafia” aka “state-mafia negotiations” in 1993 and 1994.
Essentially it was a secret negotiation between very high government figures and Sicilian Mafia chiefs, at the end of the “massacre season” in which Mafia carried out literal terrorist attacks, since there was a very strong battle against them carried out by the Palermo group (pool di Palermo).
The prosecutors Falcone and Borsellino died at the end of the massacre season, after they hit hard the Sicilians with the Maxiprocesso (aka Mega-Trial)
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