Laundries survivor: We were slaves
5 February 2013 Last updated at 08:37 GMT
A report published today is expected to detail Irish government knowledge of what went on in Magdalene Laundries.
The laundries were Catholic-run workhouses that operated in Ireland from the 1920s to the mid-1990s.
Girls considered "troubled" or what were then called "fallen women" were sent there by families or the courts.
Ellen Murphy, a survivor of the Magdalene Laundries, told the Today programme's John Humphrys that she was put to work using large washing machines.
"You had to do that or die with starvation," she explained.
Speaking of her restrictive ordeal at the Laundries, Ms Murphy said: "You never went out, you were locked in all the time... you never saw the world."
"We were slaves from one end of the day to the other," she added.
First broadcast on BBC Radio 4's Today Programme on Tuesday 5 February 2013.