Noted sworn virgins[ edit ]. Several were recorded as saying they always felt more male than female [ citation needed ]. If a sworn virgin was killed in a blood feud her death counted as a full life for the purposes of calculating blood money , rather than the half a life ordinarily accorded for a female death. Some hoped to avoid a specific unwanted marriage, and others hoped to avoid marriage in general. A widow without sons has traditionally had few options in Albania: Under the Kanun women are stripped of many rights. They cannot buy land, and there are many jobs they are not permitted to hold.
Most are over fifty years old. It was the only way a woman could inherit her family's wealth, which was particularly important in a society in which blood feuds resulted in the deaths of many male Albanians, leaving many families without male heirs. Then she is allowed to live as a man and may dress in male clothes, use a male name, carry a gun, smoke, drink alcohol, take on male work, act as the head of a household for example, living with a sister or mother , play music and sing, and sit and talk socially with men. They cannot smoke, wear a watch, or vote in their local elections. Motivations[ edit ] There are many reasons why a woman would have wanted to take this vow, and observers have recorded a variety of motivations. There are also establishments that they cannot enter. Women started gaining legal rights and came closer to having equal social status, especially in the central and southern regions. Similar practices occurred in some societies of indigenous peoples of the Americas. Some hoped to avoid a specific unwanted marriage, and others hoped to avoid marriage in general. If a sworn virgin was killed in a blood feud her death counted as a full life for the purposes of calculating blood money , rather than the half a life ordinarily accorded for a female death. Noted sworn virgins[ edit ]. A widow without sons has traditionally had few options in Albania: One woman said she became a sworn virgin in order to not be separated from her father, and another in order to live and work with her sister. Under the Kanun women are stripped of many rights. Becoming a sworn virgin was the only way for women whose families had committed them as children to an arranged marriage to refuse to fulfil it, without dishonouring the groom's family and risking gjakmarrja blood feud. It is only in the northern region that many families are still traditionally patriarchal. However, anthropologist Mildred Dickemann suggests this motive may be "over-pat", pointing out that a non-child-bearing woman would have no heirs to inherit after her, and also that in some families not one but several daughters became sworn virgins, and in others the later birth of a brother did not end the sworn virgin's masculine role. They cannot buy land, and there are many jobs they are not permitted to hold. With a son or surrogate son, she could live out her life in the home of her adulthood, in the company of her child. Several were recorded as saying they always felt more male than female [ citation needed ].
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