KPU hosting Feminist Fiction as Resistance event on International Women’s Day

Farzana Doctor, the author of Seven, will be speaking at the event

Farzana Doctor will be speaking at a KPU event on March 8 for International Women's Day. (Submitted)

Farzana Doctor will be speaking at a KPU event on March 8 for International Women’s Day. (Submitted)

Correction: A previous version of this article had KPU’s English Department hosting the event. The article has been updated with the appropriate organizer. The Runner regrets the error. 

In honour of International Women’s Day, Canada Research Chair in South Asian Literary and Cultural Studies Dr. Asma Sayed is hosting a “Feminist Fiction as Resistance” event on March 8 from 10:30 am to 12:00 pm. Sayed is also the associate vice-president of the Office of Anti-Racism at Kwantlen Polytechnic University.  

The event will feature Canadian author and activist Farzana Doctor, who will be talking about her novel Seven, which covers topics such as gender-based violence and female genital mutilation (FGM). 

Any woman is at risk of facing gender-based violence in their lifetime, but especially women with disabilities, Indigenous women, and transgender and non-binary folks. Gender-based violence can come in many different forms and can occur in romantic or platonic relationships. Some forms of abuse include sexual assault, emotional manipulation, verbal abuse, and name-calling. 

In a recent study by the Canadian Center for Women’s Empowerment (CCFWE), gender-based violence in Canada has risen since the start of the pandemic because many women have been unable to live independently and away from their abusers due to inflation and social distancing.

“What is important for people to know is that gender-based violence is everywhere,” Doctor says. 

“It is ubiquitous. It is sometimes really subtle and sometimes really extreme, but it is still a huge problem. We need to keep talking about it as a way to prevent it and help people who are victims of it,” she says. 

Seven does just that by tackling issues like gender-based violence through the eyes of her female protagonist and relationships of other female characters. 

Seven is about a woman who goes to India on a marriage-saving trip with her husband and daughter. When she is there, she ends up learning about female genital mutilation and has to figure out where she places herself in the debate around it, while also grappling some of her own personal truths as well,” Doctor says. 

FGM is the removal of a woman’s genitalia for non-medical reasons, due to cultural traditions. Although the practice is considered illegal in many countries and is prone to causing health issues, it still occurs in many countries around the world, such as India, the Philippines, and Thailand as well as throughout Africa. Over 4 million women and girls are at risk of undergoing the procedure every year. 

“It is a taboo and silenced kind of subject. It wasn’t until 2015 that it became a bit more of a public discussion [in India.] I really wanted to be able to contribute to that conversation and open some eyes around female genital mutilation,” Doctor says. 

In order to make people more aware of female genital mutilation, Doctor became the co-founder of the Canadian Network End FGM. 

“In Canada, we are trying to get the government to commit to a national action plan on this issue. It is an illegal practice in Canada, but there has never been any prevention measures or prosecutions in place. There are very few services for survivors as well,” she says. 

The non-profit organization has created a petition online and Doctor encourages people to sign it to help end FGM worldwide and protect women and girls. 

“People can sign up for the newsletter and stay informed. I hope people will get involved,” she says. 

Doctor also hopes this event will inform KPU students about gender-based violence and FGM. 

“I hope students will leave with just a little bit more knowledge on the subject and maybe give them some inspiration to address these issues in their own way.”