© Diana Markosian
Goodbye My Chechnya documents the lives of young Muslim girls growing up in the aftermath of war. For young girls in Chechnya the most innocent acts could mean breaking the rules. A couple holding hands in public is punishable; the sight of a Chechen girl smoking may lead to her arrest; and rumors of girls having sex before marriage can result in her killing. The few girls who dare to rebel become targets in the eyes of authorities. These girls tell a forbidden tale of a different kind of Chechnya – one that is behind closed doors. After nearly two decades of war and seventy years of Soviet rule, during which religious participation was banned, Chechnya is going through Islamic revival.
The Chechen government has embarked on an aggressive campaign to promote Islam and to strengthen Chechen traditions. Dozens of mosques and Islamic institutions are sprouting throughout the republic. Prayer rooms in public schools and a strict Islamic dress code is enforced. Females have reported being harassed, some physically harmed for not wearing a head covering.