Othering Honor-Based Violence: The Perspective of Antiviolence Operators in Northern Italy
Della Rocca M
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In recent years, so-called honor-based violence has become a major issue for the operators of the women's shelters in South Tyrol (Northern Italy) that support women who have suffered from domestic violence. The antiviolence operators who work in the women's shelters generally relate this form of violence to the experiences of young migrant-origin women. In this article, we discuss the operators' definitions of honor-based violence, which present a variety of dichotomous categories that reveal a process of othering and evoke the lexicon of the international conventions on gender discrimination and gender-based violence. Indeed, some traces of an essentialist understanding of culture are still recognizable in this lexicon, most of all in the relationship of culture with the concept of honor. We conclude by identifying possible ways to overcome the risk of essentialization in the antiviolence operators' practices, suggesting how to redefine them by incorporating the migrant-origin women's perspectives and stressing the significance of this study for a wider understanding of the women's empowerment in the advocacy work of the women's shelters.