Sworn Virgins: Photos of Women Living as Men in the Balkans

Jill Peters's portraits provide hints as to what life is like for women evading oppressive Albanian gender laws.

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Jill Peters

They cut off their hair, wear masculine clothing, and may even take a new name. Spotted by Feature Shoot, Jill Peters's Sworn Virgins of Albania project looks at women in the Balkans who have chosen a life of celibacy in order to avoid the oppressive laws of the Kanun, which forbids them from everything from voting and doing business to swearing and drinking.

"This practice continues today but as modernization inches toward the small villages nestled in the Alps, this archaic tradition is increasingly seen as obsolete," explains Peters, who is currently working on a documentary on the subject. "Only a few aging Sworn Virgins remain."


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Caroline Stanley is managing editor at Flavorwire.

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