In the rural mountains of Albania, "sworn virgins" — women who take a vow of celibacy in order to be afforded the same privileges as men — are dying out thanks to the introduction of capitalism and democracy. The tradition of "sworn virgins" is an ancient one in the Balkans, and derives from something called the law of the Kanun of Lek Dukagjin. The law decrees that women are the property of their fathers until marriage, and that's when they become the property of their husbands. Becoming a sworn virgin means you are allowed to own yourself, though you also have to renounce your femininity along with your sexuality. According to the Times of London, "The women cut their hair short and wear baggy men's clothes. They walk like men and talk in a deeper voice." On the upside, they get to be responsible for the family wealth. Even during the malicious reign of Stalinist dictator Enver Hoxha, being a sworn virgin was better than being a run-of-the-mill woman for some.
Diana Rakipi, 53, who has been a sworn virgin since age 8, tells the Times: "Nowadays women are in such a strong position, it's better not to be a man...Dictatorship was better. During the time of Hoxha, everyone was the same and had the same amount of bread. Now some have so much and some have nothing." Uh, except for all those people Hoxha killed and imprisoned and exiled.
There are only 30 or 40 sworn virgins left, says the Times. I can't imagine why!
'Sworn Virgins' Dying Out As Albanian Girls Reject Manly Role [Times of London]