Sworn virgins are Albanian women who decide to live like men. After making this irreversibile decision, they give up on sex and their lives as women and start living like men, thus benefitting some of the privileges that in that region are reserved for males only.

The Western research approach to the phenomenon of Albanian sworn virgins has mostly been exotic, like a look of the “civilized world” at the “uncivilized” one. Everyone, especially international media, but also researchers from the disciplines of Anthropology, Sociology, Ethnography, to name a few, has exploited this phenomenon. A sort of intimacy guaranteed to the sworn virgins by the very fact of becoming so, was, all of a sudden, exposed to the media and the wider audience –– an exposure that brought no benefit to the sworn virgins but rather the contrary –– in many cases they were portrayed in the light of primitivism and as ‘relics’ of an extremely patriarchal society. However, for many of these women, dressing like a man and becoming a sworn virgin was an act of emancipation. They associate this act with the idea of “freedom”. Dave King referred to the phenomenon as “gender migration,” comparing it to the geographical migration.

The Sworn Virgin speaks about the phenomenon of the sworn virgins, in light of the current debate on gender issues. It addresses the concept of freedom, respectively the lack of it in societies with different values, concepts and social constructs.

Qendra Multimedia Pristina
Directed by: Erson Zymberi


Performed in Albanian, with Hungarian, Romanian and English surtitles

THE SWORN VIRGIN is part of Fluid Views, the festival section co-curated with the identity. Education NGO from Timișoara.

This project is part of the national cultural programme "Timișoara – European Capital of Culture in the year 2023" and is funded by the City of Timișoara, through the Center for Projects.

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