Authors:Marina Della Rocca
Dorothy Louise Zinn (Free University of Bozen-Bolzano)
Paper short abstract:
This paper presents ongoing research on the gap in the definitions of gender-based violence and women's empowerment between operators of antiviolence centers and migrant-origin women in Northern Italy. It identifies operator perspectives that may homogenize and essentialize the assisted women.
Paper long abstract:
This paper presents the findings from the first stage of an ongoing ethnographic project in South Tyrol (Northern Italy) aimed at exploring definitions of gender-based violence, honor and women's self-determination on the part of antiviolence operators and migrant-background women. Focusing here on the operators, we see that their work epistemology is grounded in feminist principles that, in Italy, refer to a theory of sexual difference (Cavarero, 2003). At the same time, the operators' perception is influenced by the categories adopted by international conventions. With special attention to phenomena such as forced marriages and so-called honor-based violence, the overall research compares the operators' points of view with those emerging from women belonging to different generations of migration in South Tyrol.
As a first step, the identification of the operators' perspective is necessary to allow possible discursive discrepancies with the migrant-origin women to emerge. The ways through which the operators understand so-called honor-based violence reveals a set of dichotomous categories in which culture still plays an active role, an aspect which traces a relationship with the lexicon of international conventions on gender based violence (Merry, 2003; Sen, 2013). We will finally conclude outlining possible ways to overcome the risk of essentialization, specifically with respect to women's empowerment, without failing to recognize the efficacy of the existing women's shelters in combatting and preventing the phenomenon.
Understanding "FGM" and sexual violence in diaspora: women's journeys through re-creations of identity and discourses on trauma