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Seda Makhagieva, 15, wraps a pastel-colored head and neck covering. Makhagieva fought to wear the hijab -- a sharp break from her family's traditions. (Diana Markosian)

100 Words: Chechen Girls And The Rise Of Islam

by Diana Markosian
Jan 23, 2013

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Diana Markosian

More than 70 years of Soviet rule, followed by two decades of frequent warfare, inflicted a heavy toll on Chechnya, a small, mostly Muslim republic in southern Russia.

Russia has effectively crushed the rebel movement in Chechnya; the main city, Grozny, has been rebuilt; and the Chechen government has embarked on a campaign to promote Islam.

Today, alcohol is all but banned, polygamy encouraged, and single-sex hair salons and gyms are becoming the norm. Some Chechen women say their rights are being curtailed.

With these images, I hope to reveal a more intimate perspective of the personal lives and choices of girls who are grappling with questions of identity as they come of age in a place that is redefining itself through Islam.

Diana Markosian is a documentary photographer working out of Russia and the former Soviet Union. She holds a master's degree from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism. More of her work can be found on her website; a version of this post is on FotoVisura.

100 Words is a series in which photographers describe their work, in their own words. Curated by Graham Letorney

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