“Goodbye My Chechnya” chronicles the lives of young Muslim girls in the aftermath of war. This piece aims to document the resiliency of ordinary girls as they come of age in a republic that’s struggling to rebuild itself after nearly two decades of war.
For young girls in Chechnya the most innocent acts could mean breaking the rules.
A couple holding hands in public is punishable, the sight of a Chechen girl smoking may lead to her arrest. Rumors of a girl having sex before marriage will often end in an honor killing.
At sunset in the outskirts of Grozny, Kazbek Mutsaev, 29, fires celebratory gun shots as part of an age-old wedding tradition in Chechnya.
The few girls who dare to rebel – whether by religion, music taste, style of dress or aspiration are often punished. The Chechen president himself publicly announced that women are “the property of their husbands” and their main role is to bear children. Few finish school and are employed.
Seda Makhagieva, 15, sits beside her friends as they adjust her head covering. The teen started wearing the head covering a year ago – despite her family’s disapproval.
Through these set of images, I tried to reveal a more intimate perspective on the personal lives and choices of young girls who witnessed the horrors of two wars, and as a result, lost their childhood along the way.
Diana Markosian is the first Reminders Photography Stronghold Wall grantee.
Written and Photography by Diana Markosian