Woman, 58, in wilderness is one of Europe’s last sworn virgins – despite options

A woman is living in the Albanian wilderness after making a pledge to remain a virgin for life – and never looked back.

Duni made the vow of celibacy about 35 years ago which saw her swear off sex forever. Becoming a "Burrnesha," as they are known in Albanian, also meant Duni would commit to "living as a man," she told the Express.

Duni, 58, doesn't identify as transgender but her oath means she wears masculine clothes and has cut her hair in addition to refusing intercourse. But before she made the promise, Duni – then 23 – had turned down a staggering 15 marriage proposals.

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"I had a lot of options," Duni said. "But I wanted to be free and feel different.

"I had the opportunity because my father was very educated and open-minded [so I was able to remain unmarried]. I've said to all my brothers and sisters ‘don't get married too quickly. Enjoy your life.'"

Duni became a Burrnesha after her father passed away, when she had young siblings to look after. She said losing her dad meant either marrying someone else or committing to the vow and being able to serve her own family, rather than someone else's.

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It also made her the head of the household and meant she was able to make money for her family. Now, living in Lëpushë – a settlement in rural northern Albania – she has taken up residence in a remote chalet with just her pet Alsatian for company.

She's also a big fan of the Italian national football team, which she loves so much she once locked her nephew out of the house for two hours the pair had a row about his love of England's Three Lions.

Her lifestyle might not sound like everyone's cup of tea, but Duni added she was never interested in tying the knot. She said young women at the time she was growing up in Albania wouldn't be approached directly by suitors, but would instead have their families propose the idea of marriage to her dad.

"I just said, 'No, no, no I don't care who the guy is.' Different families came into our family house to convince me for their boys. I always said no, even during the good times of Albania after democracy, so I was always against that."

"I was very strong so most of the guys were scared for me, even today, they are scared of me," she added.

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