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'Sworn Virgins Albania'


'Sworn Virgins' of Albania

"A perfectly ordinary girl, perhaps with aspirations of marriage and

becoming a mother is asked by her family to take a vow of celibacy and

foreswear sexual relations for life. She is not being encouraged to join

a convent. She is taking on the responsibility and honor of protecting

her home, her family and socially becoming a man. In the solidly

patriarchal and tribal areas plagued by blood feuds and honor killings

of Albania's rural mountain villages many such women who have "become"

men act as the heads of their households. For sacrificing their innate

natures, they are afforded considerable masculine privileges. Skirts and

blouses are traded for trousers and button downs, long hair cropped to a

manly stubble. They smoke, work and swagger about town with the other

men.  They are referred to as "he" and "uncle." Their absolute

transition is accepted, posited and taken without question by the people

among whom they live. They are called Sworn Virgins of Albania, or

‘burneshas." There are only a handful left.” -- Jill Peters

Photographer Jill Peters splits her time between Miami and New York. Sworn Virgins of Albania is an ongoing project and she is currently working on a documentary film.