A photographer Diana Markosyan working in a Moscow agency in 2010 asked to be sent to Chechnya. Diana grew in Russia but studied in the USA, in 2010 she was only 20 years old but she was interested in the notorious region.
The agency refused to send her there and she decided to go by herself. Grozny became her aim and later – her home.
Many colleagues of Diana didn’t want to go to Chechnya but she returned there after the first trip. In November 2011 she came there to stay. According to Diana it’s dangerous and risky to work and live in Chechnya, girls are often kidnapped.
In her project Diana Markosyan tried to show life of girls living in Chechnya. “Coming here for a week is pretty much different from staying here forever”. Let’s see how it feels to be a Chechen girl.
After the USSR collapse Chechnya went through Islamization processes. Locals had to wear the clothes corresponding the religious canons, early age and polygamic marriages became more frequent, men started to treat women in a more conservative way. The leader of the Chechen Republic proclaimed in public that women belonged to their husbands.
Apart from the religious restrictions life of Chechen women is complicated by social conditions. The rate of unemployment is rather high in the Republic. Many young ladies becoming mothers have to live with parents.
Diana had to change her ways – people didn’t trust her and didn’t want to show how they lived. Even a seemingly innocent photo of a smoking woman might cause seriously bad consequences for the smoker.
Diana had to spend weeks with “models” before she could take a single photo. Those women she included into her project became a reflection of processes happening in Chechnya.
Khedi Konchieva, 15, is dating her boyfriend in Serzhen-Yurt village. The meeting has to happen in a public place and the young people have to sit at a decent distance from each other. Any form of an intimate contact is strictly forbidden and those girls who have sex before they get married risk to be killed by their own relatives.
Seda Makhagieva, 15, is putting on a hijab before leaving the house. Seda says it’s her duty as of a Muslim.
The couple is dancing at the party in Shali, 30 km from Grozny.
Farida Mukhaeva, 13, is dancing at the wedding of her friend. According to the tradition a Chechen bride has to stand modestly during the ceremony somewhere in the corner and the groom doesn’t have to appear in public much.
Guests are dancing at the wedding, some guy is dancing with a gun…
Nine-graders in Serzhen-Yurt village. As opposed to previous generations half of them are wearing hijabs.
Girls are reading the Koran in a religious school, madrasah, in Serzhen-Yurt village.
A football team of disabled players who suffered antipersonnel mines are training in a gym near Grozny. More than 3000 accidents caused by mines have happened in Chechnya starting from 1994.
Girls are coming back home after the morning prayer in Serzhen-Yurt village. They have been wearing hijabs for 2 years already despite disapprobation of their families.
In the outskirts of Grozny during the sunset Kazbek Mutsaev, 29, is making a festive shot as it is required by the old wedding tradition in Chechnya.
Layusa Ibragimova, 16, is reading a wedding vow in presence of a local imam. According to the tradition Chechen couples read vows separately.
Layusa Ibragimova is being fixed hair on and manicured at her place in Urus-Martan. He father gave Layusa in marriage with Ibragim Isaev, 19. Layusa and Ibragim had seen each other only several times before the wedding.
Schoolgirls are sitting on a bench at the mosque “The Heart of Chechnya” in Grozny. The mosque is the largest one in Russia and Europe.
Friends of Seda Makhagieva are setting her hat straight at her place in Serzhen-Yurt village. Seda wears a hijab despite mother’s disapproval.
Guests are waiting for a bridegroom to take a bride from her house on a wedding day.