2012 Grad Fathima Cader, Recipient of two Prestigious Awards
This year's Marlee G. Kline Essay Prize has been awarded to 2012 JD grad, Fathima Cader. This annual $250 prize is offered in the name of Marlee Kline, a feminist UBC law professor who died in November 2001 after a lengthy struggle with Leukemia. The main criterion for this essay competition is that it must address the theme identified in this quote from Ms. Kline:
"The various intersections between gender, race, class, sexual orientation, and other differentiating characteristics, affect how and when all women experience sexism."
Ms. Cader is also the recipient of the Alexander J. Cohen Memorial Award in Law. This award is given to a graduating student who best exemplifies UBC's commitment to advancing research through critical inquiry.
Fathima, can you describe what your essay for the Marlee G. Kline Essay competition was about?
This paper sets out an intersectional feminist and anti-racist analysis of the Muslim Canadian Congress's arguments, as provided in its factum to the Supreme Court of Canada in R v NS, that niqabs represent gender oppression as uniformly experienced by Muslim men and exerted by Muslim men, that they symbolize an intolerance of "Canadian values," and that they pose a threat to the security of mainstream society.
What made you decide on this as your topic?
When NS's story first broke, I was immediately fascinated by how thickly certain narratives and discourses have swirled around her case. Her legal battle -- which has yet to touch on the sexual assault charges at the heart of her case -- has unfolded against a backdrop of fierce debates across this country about the place of niqab-wearing women in Canada. From Quebec's Bill 94 banning women who wear niqabs from accessing essential services to Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney's Operational Bulletin banning women who wear niqabs from giving citizenship oaths, politicians and lawyers have made clear their determination to use law and policy to delimit for women acceptable spheres of movement and modes of expression. I wrote this paper with the hope that it could contribute to academic and community-based work that, by resisting violence within and against marginalised communities, seeks to uphold the dignity of all people.
What area of law are you interested in?
My legal interests lie in police and state accountability, especially but not exclusively through the practice and analysis of criminal law.
What are your plans for after graduation?
I am spending my summer at Pivot Legal Society. In the fall, I will be working at the Women's Legal Aid Centre in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania as part of the CBA's Young Lawyers International Program. In the long term, I am interested in exploring multifaceted ways to engage with the law, including through legal practice, academic critique, community-based work, and art.