From my photo project "Women of Pankisi Gorge"
Pankisi Gorge, as well as entire Georgia, was heavily affected by the economic and political crises of the last decades … and even more so. Pankisi has become the “major subject” of local and international media in the last decades. It was bombed several times by Russia, high profile raids have been carried out, and recently the Gorge attracted the attention of the media because of the alleged connection of several Pankisian individuals with the “Islamic State” (ISIS). For the time being, there is no official information on how many Pankisians are fighting in the extremist military groups aboard.
The women who live in the villages near Pankisi Gorge are almost isolated from the rest of the world. This isolation prevents them from economic and social development and it does not allow them to make decisions independently. Because of the religious and cultural customs that exist in the Gorge, children stay with their father in case of a divorce, which makes divorce am extremely rare occasion in Pankisi. Most of the women obey traditions tacitly. They give birth and raise their children, but they later lose their decision making power involving their children and they are not even asked about their opinion when the children go to war. The locals say that in the older times, no man could go to a war without a blessing from his mother. Everything is changing in Pankisi and the beautiful and hospitable Pankisian women are slowly disappearing in the shadow of the chador. They are slowly becoming alienated from the rest of the world.