For young people growing up in Iraqi Kurdistan they know that decades of tradition before them have weighted ‘honor’ and ‘shame’ as opposing ends of the moral spectrum. They also know these same traditions dictate the place every action falls in between. From childhood girls accept that their every move garners one of two responses: praise or discipline. Either of which can be exacted by their parents, extended family members, neighbors, or anyone else who may see.
This shame weighs heavily on the collective shoulders of the young women, for boys carry little to no shame. Iba called out, discovered, uncovered, fabricated-- could be permanently damaging to the reputation of a girl. In a small community the importance of maintaining a pristine reputation for marriage eligibility compounds the immense amount of pressure to be seen without shame, without iba.
My work strives to be truthful to my experience. I believe the piece itself stands behind me when I say it is by no means a condemnation of Kurdish culture. Bound by politics of place and the six months I devoted to this project, I cannot claim complete understanding. But this work is not just the result of my findings or interviews but also the result of friendships I formed with these young women. I cannot forget their generosity in letting me into their personal lives--or the dozens of times I was welcomed, fed, and given a bed to sleep in.