Thrace, Greece 2017
Just a few kilometers away from the Pomak villages where someone can hear both the bells of the Christian churches and to the muezzin making the call to prayer, we meet Emine Bourountzi. A divorced 37-year-old Pomak Muslim woman, she left her home village over a decade ago with her then husband whom she was forced to marry at only 13 years of age. “I felt as if I was a sheep fleeing its herd.” she says of her move to the city of Xanthi. I decided to take my headscarf off a few years later. I felt it had been forced on to me and that all those years [in my village] I had been living in exile. Having no identity and being uneducated.” Today Emine, a mother of three, has become a leading voice of Pomak women in the nearby city of Xanthi. She attends a Greek public school trying to finish her education and is fighting for gender equality.