Although today the world has made some progress to becoming a more equal place for all, patriarchy is still a present force in some societies, especially where it had a strong influence in the past. Photographer Jill Peters introduces us to the "Sworn Virgins of Albania," women who have lived as men in order to enjoy basic living rights in male-dominated Albanian culture. The series of portraits captures the faces of the few remaining Sworn Virgins, who have continued to dedicate their lives as such, while the practice is becoming increasingly outdated.
The Albanian Sworn Virgins, known as "Burnesha," have made the decision to take on a life as a man, taking a vow of celibacy and giving up all elements of what it might traditionally mean to be a woman. In turn they were able to enjoy basic freedoms to vote, drive, earn money, wear pants, drink, or smoke, and were able to evade being forced into arranged marriages with older men from other communities.
From her experience from creating her photo series, Peters said, "I learned that the Burrnesha are well respected within their communities. They possess an indescribable amount of strength and pride, and value their family honor above all else. Their absolute transition is wholly accepted, posited and taken without question by the people among whom they live. But most surprising, is they have very few regrets for the great deal they have sacrificed."