A Different Way of Life: Muslim Girls in Central Bosnia

Table of Content

The central Bosnian village Dolina is located in a valley north of the Bosnian-Hercegovinian capital, Sarejevo.

From a very early age Muslim girls are taught that their role as a female is to assist their mother with household chores and to serve the men. While her male siblings, who spend most of their time playing and walking around the village, are not expected to work around the house (Bringa 106). Muslim boys were given privileges because they were male.

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Muslim women usually did not leave the household for employment because they maintained the household agriculture, however they could sew and knit for other villagers. Women’s work mainly consisted of tending to the garden where they grew the vegetables for household consumption. The women also did the milking and the processing of cheese (Bringa 52-4). The busiest part of a Muslim woman’s day was in the morning when she did the cooking and the cleaning. A women’s daily routine, which includes social calls to her neighbors, know as “coffee visits”, revolves around both her children and husband’s schedule. A woman was expected to be home whenever her husband was home (Bringa 87-8).

The daily interaction between neighboring households occurs mainly through the women’s “coffee visits.” During the “coffee visits” the women are expected to uphold Muslim community values so as not to damage the reputation of their household (Bringa 91). Tone Bringa wrote:

“as a wife a woman’s behavior was judged in relation to her behavior within the neighborhood and village, and in terms of her critical role as representative of the moral standing of her household on a daily basis”(105).

Women determine and maintain the environment that exists within the household while the men are the providers of material substance (Bringa 86).

The men spend most of their time working outside the village in nearby market towns or in the industrial suburbs of Sarajevo. Some of the most common jobs include bricklayer, welder, carpenter, electrician, car mechanic, warden, and lorry driver (Bringa 51).

Fontana del Re is a poverty stricken neighborhood in Naples, Itlay.

Just like in the Bosnian village of Dolina, the women of Fontana del Re, Naples tend to stay close to home while the men leave the area to find work.

Life in Naples is focused on the mother. Thomas Belmonte wrote, the mother “is at the center because she controls and distributes the twin sources of human vitality, food and love” (89). The mother safeguards her children from hunger, the cold and dirt by providing food, warmth and cleanliness. She is also ready to protect her children from anything and everything, weather the neighborhood bully or any adult. In the children’s eyes the mother is always number one and her love is viewed as an eternal constant (Belmonte 90).

The love of a mother is given to the children, while the love a father must be earned. This creates an emotional division that delegates the disciplinary responsibilities to the father. Which is why the children do not fear their mother as much as they fear their father (Belmonte 91).

The mother works very hard taking care of her family. She seeks no special recognition for all her hard work while the father continuously reminds his children of all the sacrifices he has had to make over the years. The mother is the glue that holds the family together (Belmonte 90).

Women also hold the society together by performing many of the vital tasks while the men are away working or looking for jobs. Belmonte writes:

“women were not the docile wives of Italian myth. They did not stand by silently, a few paces behind their husbands, ready unconditionally to serve. They were not shut away from the world, in the isolated darkness of their homes. They were defiant women, ready to challenge any man’s decisions if they judged them unwise” (92).

If the family fell on hard times the mother would temporarily get a job in order to help make ends meet, but as soon as the family’s situation improved the mother would stop working (Belmonte 92).

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A Different Way of Life: Muslim Girls in Central Bosnia. (2018, Jul 01). Retrieved from


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