The Overburdened Young Wives of Migrants
These women are assuming the tasks of both male and female work. In the poverty-stricken village of Zolakar, Armenia, almost every second male has left for Russia to earn money.
“I’m not unhappy, but at the same time I’m not happy either, as my husband is and was in Russia in my good and bad days. He wasn’t present when our child was born, nor did he see its first steps. He wasn’t by me when I was sick,” says 35-year-old Ruzanna from Zolakar.
Zolakar is a village in Gegharkunik province. It has the highest level of emigration in Armenia. A male representatives of every second family has migrated to different cities of Russia to earn money, though their families live in poverty or extreme poverty.
However, some of them managed to provide financial stability and good living conditions for their young families. In this province, men are at home only three months in a year, and mostly during the winter. Some of them even spend less time with their families. All the household work is on the shoulders of young women. In the absence of husbands there are mothers, fathers, women and men. Young women are involved in agriculture and ranching; they cut wood and mow grass. The complete absence of entertainment in the village, and the conservative traditions make women wake up early in the morning at 5 am and do only housekeeping. It is a shame to take care of your looks if your husband is not in the country.
Because of conservative traditions and fear of the public’s opinion, many of the women refused to be shot, though they were ready to speak about the difficulties that they face. This is what they said;
“If villagers know that I have been filmed, I will die of shame. My husband is not in the country, I cannot be filmed.” Many mother-in-laws said that their sons would be jealous if their wives were filmed, and there would be a huge fight. We got the permission of the women to shoot their children and tell their stories through them.