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Sworn Virgins--Rabe Lajqi, 77, Kosovo.

In the patriarchal rural Albanian society, the age-old tradition of the Virgjineshe ('sworn virgins') gives women the choice of taking on a male identity. Becoming a 'sworn virgin' means to vow life-long celibacy and to turn into a surrogate son to her father. The reasons for taking the vow are a lack of sufficient men in a family to carry out the men's work, or the lack of a headstrong man to become the head of the family. Often the decision is made by her father, uncle or grandfather. The girl or woman then acquires a male name, male clothes and a male haircut. With the new status she obtains all the male privileges, such as inheriting property, making decisions within the family and community, being able to carry weapons, taking part in blood feuds and socialising freely. They are accepted and addressed as men by other members of their community and often behave more manly than the men.

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Title Annotation:SPOTLIGHT
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:4EXAL
Date:Jun 1, 2015
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