The role of women in the Italian mafias has long been overlooked. Reduced to victim status and relegated to domestic life in a male-dominated society, women serve as the mafia's respectable facade: virtuous and docile. It is hard to picture these immaculate figures married to and raising brutal killers. But, as Milka Kahn and Anne Veron reveal in this absorbing book, women have always been at the heart of Italy's criminal organisations, as the guarantors of mafia culture. While the men are behind bars or on the run, it is left to their wives and mothers to uphold and pass on the 'family values'. Once widowed, they push their sons to vendetta; they are increasingly becoming mafia chiefs in their own right. Yet many also decide to risk their lives and break with 'the Family', collaborating with the authorities and renouncing mafia society in search of a normal life. So who are these women? Are they pure Madonnas, or dangerous Godmothers? Women of Honour paints a complex and fascinating portrait through extremely rare interviews with the women themselves, who have overcome a culture of silence to share their extraordinary lives.
Milka Kahn is a Franco-Italian jurist specialising in European law. She became familiar with the subject of mafia women through her volunteer work with the anti-mafia organisation Libera Palermo. Anne Veron is a Franco-Italian director and creator of several authoritative documentaries on the Italian mafias.