Family Secrets

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I’ve been wanting to share this story for several weeks, but I wasn’t sure whether it fit with the content I write here on The Wonderist. I finally decided to throw caution to the wind because the themes of sacrifice and remarkable strength in this story are universal and inspiring.

Meet the “burneshas” of Albania. They are women who chose to live as men at a time in their country when women were not granted the same rights and privileges. They adopted the fashion and mannerisms of men and took a lifetime vow of celibacy. Why?  To take care of their families.

“The freedom to vote, drive, conduct business, earn money, drink, smoke, swear, own a gun or wear pants was traditionally the exclusive province of men. Young girls were commonly forced into arranged marriages, often with much older men in distant villages. A family suddenly without a patriarch or male heir would find themselves in jeopardy of losing everything. As an alternative, becoming a Sworn Virgin, or ‘burnesha” elevated a woman to the status of a man and granted her all the rights and privileges of the male population.” (Via Messy Nessy Chic)

Read the full story here – it is fascinating.

Here are a few more photos below from photographer Jill Peters who spoke with some of the last remaining burneshas of Albania:

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