Whispers of the past: Secrets of Azerbaijani families
This photo story was prepared with support from the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) South Caucasus Regional Office and Chai Khana Media.

In Azerbaijan, these stories are often shared through hushed voices. Secrets linger in the shadows.
I vividly recall a childhood event that etched itself into my memory. Around the family table, freewheeling discussions suddenly shifted to whispers. Curious, I wondered what was being said. It was then that one of my mother's friends shared a profound experience: her child had been taken from her by force and given to a relative. This happened because that relative had been trying for years to conceive without success. The surprise and concern I felt that day never left me, and from that moment on, the seed was planted for my photo project on the complexities of Azerbaijani family dynamics.

During my research, I encountered around 10 individuals with similar stories. For various reasons, only six agreed to be interviewed. As I immersed myself in the project, conversations with those around me revealed that such incidents were not rare and happened in many families. This deeply significant yet hidden facet of Azerbaijani society remains largely unspoken, shrouded in secrecy.
Through interviews, patterns began to emerge, providing insight into the reasons behind this practice. It became evident that biological parents never wished to give away their own kids; however, they felt compelled to succumb to societal and familial pressures. The weight of tradition and the decisions made by elders within the household played a significant role in these heart-wrenching choices.

As my project progressed, I was struck by another intriguing aspect—the phenomenal importance given to blood ties in Azerbaijani culture, contrasted with the hesitancy to consider sponsoring children from orphanages.
In this photo project, I unveil the long-kept secrets of Azerbaijani families. Through the lens of my camera, I strive to bring these untold narratives to light, encouraging introspection and dialogue about the intricate threads that weave together the very fabric of family life in our society.

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