The Festival that was held in Sheki, Azerbaijan underlined the contrast of youth in the capital and the young generation of the same age, in rural spaces. The festival showed the interest of youth towards motorcycles and camping, and at the same time, it was obviously seen as the “activity” of young women in rural places.
Aysu, 22, is married and has 2 children. According to her words, she was engaged at 17, and was married at 18. When asked how she is spending her leisure time, she laughed and said, “ Do you think I have spare time?”
“The main duty is to prepare everything before a husband comes,” says Arzu. The last time when she was going for a walk with her husband was during her engagement.
There was another young girl at home; her father said that in comparison to the other regions of Azerbaijan, there is not “age limit’’ for girls to get married. “Everyone gets married when they want to… 18-22-25… does not matter. Even if she is 25 and is still not married, nobody will point at her and think that she is a “left at home” girl,” he says.
Afaq, 22, is working in a souvenir shop in Sheki. “17, 19, 25, - it does not matter. Everyone is married when they want to.” “In comparison with South regions of Azerbaijan, where early marriages are common, here in Sheki people are getting married when they want, and if the girl did not get married after 18, then no one will say anything offensive to her,” she says. Afaq says that she has little time for entertainment. “But of course when we have time, we go to the restaurants, to a cinema club, or to concerts.” However, her reaction to the moto festival was not positive. She thinks that such types of places are not appropriate for girls’ to visit. She preferred to hide her face.
Ulfat Nazarova, 26, unlike Salmi, faced some challenges when she decided to change her bicycle to a motorcycle. Ulfat says that she has been riding a motorcycle for 2 years now. “ My brother always wanted to buy a motorcycle, and because of having a brother, I was brought up in a boys’ environment. I always liked to ride my bicycle, but later I was inspired by my brother to buy a motorcycle, and when he bought it I started to ride it. My parents had a very negative reaction to it, and were against it. To persuade my mother required much time.”
“Later my brother had a crash, and I had to leave my job in order to take care of him. After 3-4 years, this topic was again actual, and my parents were still against it. However, my brother supported me a lot, and bought a motorcycle as a present for me.”
Togrul is a dance teacher in Sheki. According to his words, mainly the girls under 14-years-old take these classes, however after 18-20 years old, their number is reduced.
Leyla Qasimova, 23, was born and raised in Sheki, however for the last several years she has been living and working in Baku. Leyla shared her views regarding marriages in the rural spaces. “I cannot comment about the regions, but in Sheki, parents are always trying to give a good education to their children. To have a good education is a priority both for girls and for boys. She underlined that until one is 23 years-old, it is ok to stay alone, but after that, all the relatives and neighbours start to ask the parents questions like “when is your daughter’s wedding” and etc. So I am already 23.” (laughing)