Albania's 'honorary men'

Albania's 'honorary men'

Qamile Stema, an Albanian woman who chose to 'live as a man'

Qamile Stema has been living as a man for nearly 80 years

In the conservative society of rural northern Albania, a family without a son or a father figure was traditionally considered leaderless.

To overcome this social handicap, some families had their daughter swap her status and in effect live as a boy - and therefore the head of the clan.

Although the practice died out during Albania's communist rule - which ended in the early 1990s - a few of these "sworn virgins", as they are known, remain today.

The BBC's Mike Lanchin travelled to meet Qamile Stema, who chose to live as a man after her father died when she was a child.

Listen Listen to Mike Lanchin's report from Albania (5 mins 2 secs)

First broadcast 21 October 2008