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In Photos: Are Algeria’s beauty tattoos a sin in Islam?

 Reuters 14 December 2019

Among the Chaouia people of the Aures mountains in Algeria, a woman’s beauty used to be judged by her tattoos. The women that photographer Zohra Bensemra met are now old, their wrinkles and fading tattoos telling of a lifetime of experience. They revealed the stories behind their tattoos for him. Some received them as young as seven, sometimes against their wishes. Some cherish their tattoos but others live with regret. There are those that argue that, by allowing the tattoos, they committed a sin according to Islam. To make amends, many have donated treasured possessions. “I feel like every tear has washed away a bit of my tattoo,” said one woman. Includes photo series. (846 Words) - By Zohra Bensemra

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Fatma Benyadir, 75, a berber woman from the Chaouia region, who has facial tattoos, sits inside her house in Chalma at the Aurès Mountains near the eastern city of Batna, Algeria October 9, 2019. Among the Chaouia people of the Aurès Mountains, a woman’s beauty used to be judged by her tattoos. A local woman tattooed Benyadir when she was 12 years old. "I did it without telling my parents. All the girls my age were tattooed,” Benyadir said.Credit: REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra

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Fatma Haddad, 80, a berber woman from the Chaouia region, who has facial tattoos, sits inside her house in Chalma in the Aurès Mountains, Algeria October 9, 2019. Among the Chaouia people of the Aurès Mountains, a woman’s beauty used to be judged by her tattoos. Haddad was tattooed aged 18 by a local woman. “I did it because all the girls my age were tattooed,” Haddad said. Today she regrets being tattooed.Credit: REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra

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Mazouza Bouglada, 86, a berber woman from the Chaouia region, who has facial tattoos, poses for a photograph in Taghit in the Aurès Mountains, Algeria October 8, 2019. Among the Chaouia people of the Aurès Mountains, a woman’s beauty used to be judged by her tattoos. Bouglada was tattooed aged 7 by a nomadic man from the Sahara region.Credit: REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra

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Djemaa Daoudi, 90, a berber woman from the Chaouia region, who has facial tattoos, sits outside her house in Inoughissen in the Aurès Mountains near the eastern city of Batna, Algeria October 8, 2019. Among the Chaouia people of the Aurès Mountains, a woman’s beauty used to be judged by her tattoos. Daoudi was forced to have a tattoo by her husband just after their wedding when she was 15 years old because it was a fashion.Credit: REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra

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Fatma Badredine, 94, a berber woman from the Chaouia region, who has facial tattoos, sits inside her house in Arris at the Aurès Mountains near the eastern city of Batna, Algeria October 8, 2019.Credit: REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra

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Fatma Tarnouni, 106, a berber woman from the Chaouia region, who has facial tattoos, sits inside her house in Taghit in the Aurès Mountains near the eastern city of Batna, Algeria October 8, 2019. Fatma was tattooed aged 10 by a man from the Sahara region. "It was the rule, it was fashionable too. All the girls were tattooed. To be beautiful, you had to be tattooed, so I did it."Credit: REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra


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