As she hangs up washing on branches outside her family’s stone home, Liana talks wistfully about her curtailed childhood which ended with marriage at the tender age of 14.
Liana belongs to Armenia’s roughly 40,000-strong Yezidi community, a livestock-herding people who follow their own ancient religion that involves the worship of a peacock angel called Satan.
Their customs are strict and sometimes at odds with the values and practices of the modern world, most notably the tradition of marrying women while they are still in their early teens.
Some within the community, especially the young, are now wanting to break out of the limits of tradition and forge normal lives and careers.
“When I was 14 my parents refused to let me go to school anymore and married me off instead,” Liana, now 23, said, her olive green eyes flickering timidly to the ground.
“But I want my daughters to get an education, become experts in something and live in better conditions,” she said, watching as her six-year-old daughter continued with the household chores.
The Yezidi are the biggest minority group in Armenia -- a largely mono-ethnic country where some 98 percent of the roughly 3.3 million population are ethnic Armenians and the country’s Christian Apostolic Church dominates.
Fierce guardians of their traditions, the Yezidi do not allow outsiders to convert to their faith and ban the eating of lettuce or wearing of anything blue.
Although they speak a form of Kurdish, Armenia’s Yezidi fiercely reject being labeled Kurds and their religion -- which has seen them regarded as “devil-worshippers” by Muslims -- is thought by some to have its origins in the Zoroastrianism of ancient Persia.
The Yezidis do not believe in heaven or hell, and do not regard Satan as evil. In fact, they worship him in the guise of a peacock angel whose name they are forbidden from saying out loud.
Found in Armenia’s western valleys close to Mount Ararat, as well as in their spiritual home in nearby Iraq, along with Syria, Turkey and Georgia, the strongly patriarchal Yezidi forbid girls from talking in the presence of male elders or eating with male relatives.
As was the case with Liana, they have commonly married off their daughters when they are in their early teens, sometimes as young as 12 or 13.
نستخدم ملفات الكوكيز لنسهل عليك استخدام مواقعنا الإلكترونية ونكيف المحتوى والإعلانات وفقا لمتطلباتك واحتياجاتك الخاصة، لتوفير ميزات وسائل التواصل الاجتماعية ولتحليل حركة المرور لدينا...اعرف أكثر