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  • Holly A.U.

    The tradition of the sworn virgin in Albania, a ritual of self-empowerment for rural women who become patriarchs of their families by swearing an oath to remain celibate, was born of a social necessity in an agrarian region plagued by war and death. Qamile Stema, 88, is the last sworn virgin remaining in her village. She wears a qeleshe, the traditional white cap of an Albanian man. She said she took the oath to remain a virgin at age 20, after her father died.

  • Karen Atkinson

    The tradition of the sworn virgin in Albania, a ritual of self-empowerment for rural women who become patriarchs of their families by swearing an oath to remain celibate, was born of a social necessity in an agrarian region plagued by war and death. About 40 sworn virgins remain in the northern Albanian countryside. Qamile Stema, 88, is the last sworn virgin remaining in her village. She wears a qeleshe, the traditional white cap of an Albanian man.

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"The tradition of the sworn virgin in Albania, a ritual of self-empowerment for rural women who become patriarchs of their families by swearing an oath to remain celibate, was born of a social necessity in an agrarian region plagued by war and death." - Johan Spanner for The New York Times

"The tradition of the sworn virgin in Albania, a ritual of self-empowerment for rural women who become patriarchs of their families by swearing an oath to remain celibate, was born of a social necessity in an agrarian region plagued by war and death." - Johan Spanner for The New York Times

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paola favoino Albanian sworn virgins In Albania there are women who become men. They are not omosexual people just following “a culturally informed response to a biological imperative, but – honorary men - revered as heads of household”*. Their albanian name is “burrneshe” and probably they were part of albanian traditional life before the fifteenth century. antropological research *from “Women who become men. Albanian sworn virgins”, Antonia Young. Berg ed., Uk 2001

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