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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 09 September 2017
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 9 SEPTEMBER 2017 9 FEATURE found themselves pregnant again. And another six or more months without support. Bearing their babies with only women to support them. No communication. No way of knowing when or if their husbands would return. On this rock. Through storms and searing summers. Feeding children, nurturing, disciplining, taking care of the house and the household. Dealing with illnesses. Often without any male support for very long periods of time. not men who had been chosen for them. Right up until the 20th century, arranged marriages had been the norm: payments of family debts, favours, simple matchups. Through the centuries young teenage girls were presented with who they were going to spend the rest of their lives with, sometimes days, moments before their marriage. And all methods were used to ensure they were in pristine condition. walkers is rumoured to have emerged to enable women to visit each other without fear, to leave their ‘prisons’. They were said to have dressed in their finest, leaving their houses in a sleeplike trance and it was understood that they should not be disturbed. Some tell this story, that they covered themselves with a customary long shirt, to appear ghostlike, to deter even further, any inquisitors. Either way, it was a very creative way to overcome a difficult situation. We have many differences because of where we were born and where we grew up. But we have many things in common. For me, I see it is the blood pulsing through our veins, making the beat of our hearts; it is the breath filling our spirit with a love of life Perhaps this life of responsibility is what has developed our survival gene; our matriarchy, where women run the house and the family. Because this strength has been in the Kazzie woman ever since. They have kept their families together through wars, famine, natural disasters. They have lost their families to wars, famine, and disasters. When the men returned, the women moved into the background. Their husbands were kings. Their demands were fulfilled. They were at their beck and call. And these were more often than Kastellorizo has the most beautiful back streets. They are narrow, enchanting and secretive. This is where women walked between destinations. Not because it was a lovely walk, but so they could not ‘tempt’ the men sitting on the limani, drinking coffee, solving the problems or their world. At puberty, girls were locked up in their houses until they could be handed over to a man, ‘in good condition’. So the women came up with a fairy tale to let them move freely in the streets. The folklore of the sleep- Education? For most, there was none. The girls' school was built by the philanthropist, Loukas (Santrape). But even today, if you ask most women over 50, they had little or no education at all. And what has improved is that now all girls on the island have an education. The current generation of mothers can see there are many opportunities for their daughters, if only they can access them. They are equal in applying for student exchange places. They are equal in the classroom. Until recently, it would have been unheard of to send a young girl away without family chaperoning. Mothers today can see the world is open for their girl children. But it is not made easy. To educate any child on Kastellorizo, even today so that they can enter university, is a challenge. In Greece, the teachers are hired for subjects, not for class requirements. So if a girl (or boy) needs a subject such as biology to go on to science or medicine, if there is no teacher for biology they either have to change the direction of their dreams, or study externally. So mothers are as always, finding a way. They have started sending their children to Rhodes or the mainland to complete their high school education, if necessary subjects are missing. The sacrifice of this to a Kastellorizan mother cannot be measured. Especially if the child is a girl. The future women of Kastellorizo, the nurturers of our amazing culture, are taking us into the 21st century. Slowly, untwisting some of the knotted ropes of the past, finding a new path to the future. With the help of the internet, and with their own travel experiences they are opening up the world to their daughters. The future is beckoning. It still will not be easy. The isolation of the island, the fear of the unknown will cause stumbling blocks along the road, but I can see in the girls' eyes the excitement of what could be for them. What will be for some of them, because their genes, from their mothers, from their grandmothers, from their great grandmothers, will get them there. They, we, are Kastellorizian women, and I would rather be with them, here, than anywhere else in the world. *This article was originally published in Filia, the publication of The Friends of Kastellorizo. For more info email firstname.lastname@example.org Local woman Isodeia with the octopus she caught. Threading cloves and singing songs in preparation for a wedding.
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