Feminist Dissent's cover artwork, 'Seasons of Mud 1' by Yousif Naser, used with permission
Feminist Dissent’s cover artwork, ‘Seasons of Mud 1’ by Yousif Naser, used with permission

Feminist Dissent, published out of Warwick University, had its inaugural event at the Shoreditch venue last Friday (22 July) organised by the South Asian Women’s Creative Collective, or SAWCC, pronounced ‘saucy’.

The journal was set up by female academics and writers who were part of the Women Against Fundamentalism (WAF) network, formed in 1989 in response to Ayatollah Khomeini’s fatwa against author Salman Rushdie.

The journal’s editors hope to ‘amplify the voices’ of vulnerable women struggling against various forms of oppression.

The launch featured a talk and Q&A with Karima Bennoune, author of Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here, and UN Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights.

There was also a talk by Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti, author of the play Behzti, a 2004 production of which was famously shut down by Sikh protesters for its depiction of a sexual assault inside a temple.

Nahid Siddiqui, a world famous Kathak dancer and choreographer who fled General Zia’s Pakistan in the 1970s, performed to live music, before DJ Ritu closed the evening with music and dancing for attendees.

Feminist Dissent’s editors hope the new publication will be a place to explore gender and religious fundamentalism from a Left-wing anti-racist point of view.

All the writers in the inaugural issue are from minority ethnic backgrounds and have had to struggle against both white racism and the sexism of conservative religious and ethnic communities.

Pragna Patel, Director of Southall Black Sisters (SBS), who attended the launch event and was active in WAF, said she hopes the journal will give voice to women’s struggles.

“We at SBS witness with horror the growing alignment of religion, law and politics and its life-threatening impact on vulnerable women and other groups in minority communities”, she said.

Feminist Dissent will, I hope, provide a vital space to reinvigorate our struggles and amplify our voices against those who play politics with religion”.

For more information visit the Feminist Dissent page on the Warwick website.

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