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The Lives Of Chechen Girls

After nearly two decades of conflict and the preceding 70 years of Soviet rule, during which religious participation was banned, modern-day Chechnya is going through an Islamic revival. For young girls in the republic, ordinary acts can bring severe consequences. Being caught smoking is cause for arrest, while rumors of a couple having sex before marriage can result in an honor killing. The few girls who dare to rebel become targets in the eyes of Chechen authorities. Documentary photographer and writer Diana Markosian shot this photo essay chronicling the lives of young Muslim girls in Chechnya who, she writes, are now coming of age in a republic that is rapidly redefining itself as a Muslim state. (17 PHOTOS)

Chechen girls adjust the head covering of 15-year-old Seda Makhagieva. The teen fought to wear the hijab -- a sharp break from her family's traditions.
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Chechen girls adjust the head covering of 15-year-old Seda Makhagieva. The teen fought to wear the hijab -- a sharp break from her family's traditions.

A couple on a date in the village of Serzhen-Yurt. Couples must meet in public and sit apart from one another. All physical contact is forbidden before marriage.
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A couple on a date in the village of Serzhen-Yurt. Couples must meet in public and sit apart from one another. All physical contact is forbidden before marriage.

Half of the girls in the ninth grade at School No. 1 in the Chechen village of Serzhen-Yurt wear the hijab, not formerly a part of Chechen tradition, Markosian writes.
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Half of the girls in the ninth grade at School No. 1 in the Chechen village of Serzhen-Yurt wear the hijab, not formerly a part of Chechen tradition, Markosian writes.

Gym class at School No. 1 in Serzhen-Yurt. The schoolgirls, all dressed in skirts and head scarves, say gym clothes violate Muslim dress codes.
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Gym class at School No. 1 in Serzhen-Yurt. The schoolgirls, all dressed in skirts and head scarves, say gym clothes violate Muslim dress codes.

Girls gather after school in front of the Heart of Chechnya Mosque, the largest in Europe. All Chechen girls, regardless of their religion, must wear head coverings in public schools and government buildings.
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Girls gather after school in front of the Heart of Chechnya Mosque, the largest in Europe. All Chechen girls, regardless of their religion, must wear head coverings in public schools and government buildings.

Chechen teens study the Koran at an underground madrasah. Markosian writes that Chechen youth have been quick to embrace Islam after decades of religious repression in the Soviet Union.
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Chechen teens study the Koran at an underground madrasah. Markosian writes that Chechen youth have been quick to embrace Islam after decades of religious repression in the Soviet Union.

Layusa Ibragimova, 15, has her hair and nails done before her wedding. Her marriage to 19-year-old Ibragim Isaev was finalized by her father just weeks before.
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Layusa Ibragimova, 15, has her hair and nails done before her wedding. Her marriage to 19-year-old Ibragim Isaev was finalized by her father just weeks before.

Amina Mutieva, 21, a student at the Islamic University in Grozny, prays in a prayer room for women.
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Amina Mutieva, 21, a student at the Islamic University in Grozny, prays in a prayer room for women.

Chechen dancers wait backstage at a concert hall in the Chechen capital, Grozny. A suicide bomb exploded in front of the concert hall in 2009, killing six people and wounding several others.
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Chechen dancers wait backstage at a concert hall in the Chechen capital, Grozny. A suicide bomb exploded in front of the concert hall in 2009, killing six people and wounding several others.

Chechen artists prepare backstage for their performance. All women in Chechnya must wear head scarves in public schools and state buildings. Celebrities were among the first to conform, making the head scarf a fashion statement.
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Chechen artists prepare backstage for their performance. All women in Chechnya must wear head scarves in public schools and state buildings. Celebrities were among the first to conform, making the head scarf a fashion statement.

Jamila Idalova, 16, on her wedding day. The teen bride was kidnapped by her boyfriend. Idalova's family eventually approved the marriage. Bride kidnappings are outlawed under strongman leader Ramzan Kadyrov, but continue to take place.
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Jamila Idalova, 16, on her wedding day. The teen bride was kidnapped by her boyfriend. Idalova's family eventually approved the marriage. Bride kidnappings are outlawed under strongman leader Ramzan Kadyrov, but continue to take place.

A Chechen boy checks out girls from behind black-tinted windows.
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A Chechen boy checks out girls from behind black-tinted windows.

A Chechen teen, who identifies herself as "emo," puts on pink lipstick in her bedroom. Chechen youths influenced by the Western emo subculture have frequently been subjected to official harassment and violence.
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A Chechen teen, who identifies herself as "emo," puts on pink lipstick in her bedroom. Chechen youths influenced by the Western emo subculture have frequently been subjected to official harassment and violence.

A group of Chechen women stand separately from the men at a gathering. Gender segregation has become increasingly common in public settings.
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A group of Chechen women stand separately from the men at a gathering. Gender segregation has become increasingly common in public settings.

A group of Chechen men at a party stand at the opposite end of the room from the women.
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A group of Chechen men at a party stand at the opposite end of the room from the women.

Kazbek Mutsaev, 29, fires celebratory gunshots at sunset on the outskirts of Grozny, part of an age-old wedding tradition.
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Kazbek Mutsaev, 29, fires celebratory gunshots at sunset on the outskirts of Grozny, part of an age-old wedding tradition.

Party guests cheer as a couple dances Lezginka, a traditional dance in the North Caucasus.
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Party guests cheer as a couple dances Lezginka, a traditional dance in the North Caucasus.

Seda Makhagieva, 15, puts on her head scarf.
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Seda Makhagieva, 15, puts on her head scarf.

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