In Albania, the centuries-old tradition of blood vengeance has seen a renewal over the past decade. The void in the law-and-order system, left by the collapse of Communism, sent many Albanians back to the common laws of their tribal roots. These laws include the right for a family member to avenge a murder by killing a member of the murderer’s family. This can be read in the article 8 of the Kanun, a set of traditional Albanian laws.

About 2,800 Albanian families are thought to be living in self-imposed isolation, in an attempt to avoid the destiny of those victims of blood vengeances. In some areas, the right of vengeance considered an obligation. The act is compelled by the community. Those who don’t seek vengeance run the risk of complete exclusion. In too many cases, this turns into a complete and utter feud, provoking an endless chain of crimes.

For this project, I tried to impress into my pictures the impact of this situation on the life of a family and especially on its young members. The latter ones, in fact, spend all day stuck in their houses with nothing to do.

I tried to meet families on both sides of a vendetta and was surprised to find many families craving it. But beyond this strength, I discovered emotional instability, depression, anger.

The title of my project is “Eye for an Eye” and centers upon the impact of this stalemate on the peoples’ minds and souls. I’d like to convey this situation to the world and to support those mediation organizations that are trying to bring the only possible solution: forgiveness.

—Stefano Schirato

Don’t miss the work of
all the other winners and finalists from the LensCulture Visual Storytelling Awards 2014. In total, you’ll find 25 powerfully told stories from across the world.

Discover more new, inspiring photography every day from cultures around the world at, and on Facebook and Twitter.