Connect with us


Bizarre row erupts in north London election race as Women’s Equality candidate labelled ‘anti-feminist’



Women's Equality Party candidate Nimco Ali Women's Equality Party

A bizarre row has erupted after an election candidate for the Women’s Equality Party was accused of being “anti-feminist” for standing against Labour.

FGM survivor Nimco Ali is running in the Hornsey and Wood Green constituency, a seat won by Labour’s Catherine West in the 2015 General Election.

Born in Somalia, Ms Ali arrived in the UK aged four. Three years later she was forced to undergo female genital mutilation (FGM) when she was on a family holiday in Djibouti, east Africa.

A bizarre row has erupted after an election candidate for the Women’s Equality Party was accused of being “anti-feminist” for standing against Labour.

FGM survivor Nimco Ali is running in the Hornsey and Wood Green constituency, a seat won by Labour’s Catherine West in the 2015 General Election.

Born in Somalia, Ms Ali arrived in the UK aged four. Three years later she was forced to undergo female genital mutilation (FGM) when she was on a family holiday in Djibouti, east Africa.

She has campaigned against FGM throughout her life and co-founded the charity Daughters for Eve which works to protect girls and young women who are at risk.

But Ms Ali, who is only the second British-Somali to ever run for Westminster, said that since her candidacy was announced she has been on the receiving end of “misplaced anger” from Labour-supporting men and women.

The 34-year-old said she has received dozens of messages via email and social media accusing her of being anti-feminist for trying to unseat a strong female Labour MP.

One typical message read: “Why isn’t the Women’s Equality Party running in Conservative seats and against male candidates? Apart from against Philip Davies I don’t see that happening.”

Ms Ali told the Standard: “I’ve had Labour supporters saying to me ‘if you stand then we might lose’ but I think ‘sort yourself out, sort out your policies’.

“A lot of Labour members and supporters have told me I am dividing the vote.

“But so many people are complaining about Labour not having a strong leader. You only have to look at the way the manifesto was leaked. Someone is briefing against him.

“It is members of their party that have the audacity to say to me that I am splitting the vote, a split party that I once believed in having petty fights.”

Ms Ali said that she wants to make it clear that she has not chosen to stand against a woman but has chosen to stand against the mainstream parties which she believes are “failing to address women’s equality issues”.

Ms West took the north London seat from former Lib Dem MP Lynne Featherstone in 2015 securing a majority of 11,058 over her rival. Dawn Barnes, the Lib Dem candidate this June, is expected to mount a strong challenge.

Labour’s Catherine West is campaigning to be re-elected in Hornsey and Wood Green (Lucy Young)

Ms West told the Standard: “I think the important thing is that people have a choice and that they [the candidates] should be able to stand wherever they want.”

She pointed out that it was unlikely Ms Ali would attract Labour voters in the constituency given that she voted for Tory politician Zac Goldsmith for London Mayor.

Ms Ali has been accused of being close to the Conservatives. One of her four brothers Mohamed is chair of the Somali Conservatives and she was offered the chance to stand in a “safe seat” for the party.

But Ms Ali has insisted she is not a Conservative and could not stand for the party because of policies like the child benefit cap.

Ms Ali said she plans to fight the campaign by focusing heavily on issues including knife crime and making sure there is support for women in the constituency.

She said: “I want to focus on issues such as knife crime and gangs that are being neglected by the mainstream parties. There are many mothers that feel like they have been left behind. Many people have lost their lives to knife crime in the last couple of weeks. That is completely unacceptable.

“We want to help the mothers who could be at the forefront of preventing this violence to engage with the police and so on.”

The Women’s Equality Party manifesto includes policies such as 40 hours of free childcare per week from the end of parental leave until a child reaches school age.

The feminist party has seven candidates standing in the June 8 election include party leader Sophie Walker, who will stand in Shipley against Conservative Philip Davies.

Arts & Culture

Somali-British poet Momtaza Mehri named young people’s laureate for London



THE GUARDIAN — The 24-year-old Somali-British poet Momtaza Mehri, who has been chosen as the new young people’s laureate for London, is hoping to spend her year in the role convincing young people “to see poetry as part of their every day, rather than in some dusty tome, or academic niche interest”.

Mehri, who has a background in biochemical science and wrote the poetry chapbook sugah. lump. prayer, has been shortlisted for this year’s Brunel African poetry prize and won last year’s Out-Spoken Page poetry prize. As laureate, Mehri hopes to encourage young people to voice their concerns and experiences through poetry.

The poet, from Kilburn in north-west London, was selected for the role by a panel of arts organisations and poets, and is, according to Spread the Word’s chair of trustees Rishi Dastidar, “an inspired choice” and a “poet to watch”.

“For young people to have an artist who is an ambassador for them, who brings their concerns, struggles and joys to those in authority, and the wider world, is vital,” Dastidar said. “Her poetry is precise and powerful, and rich with images that are haunting. She is not afraid to tackle the biggest of subjects, which, combined with her talent, is going to give the role a renewed sense of purpose and visibility.”
Mehri said she was exposed to oral forms of poetry by her family when growing up, but only began writing for publication around four years ago. “Over time I honed, or found, my voice, and that allowed me to feel comfortable, finding the poetic voice I felt was most suited to me. Obviously at the beginning you’re very much inspired by your influences,” she said. “I think the poetry I write is interested in questions or ideas around disruption or movement, whether it’s movement of people or places, movement between different ideas, between how things change over different generations, and in themes of migration and urban spaces.”

During her time in the role, Mehri will be looking to amplify the voices of Londoners aged between 13 and 25, “to let them lead conversations, to be as inspired by them as hopefully they can be inspired by me”. She will work with writer-development agency Spread the Word on youth-focused residencies across London, head a tour to six outer London boroughs, and co-host a special project for young London poets called The Young People’s Poetry Lab.

According to research from the National Literacy Trust, 84% of teachers who participated in a poetry programme for disadvantaged children in London schools over a five-year period said their writing skills had improved.

Outgoing young people’s laureate for London, Caleb Femi, said that “poetry has the potential to play a vital part in self-expression and artistic enjoyment in the lives of young people”.

“We need a dedicated person who can assist in integrating the joys of poetry into the everydayness of young Londoners,” he added. “We are extremely lucky to have a talented and dedicated poet such as Momtaza Mehri appointed as the new young people’s laureate for London. Her tenure is sure to be an extraordinary one.”

Mehri said that she wanted to: “Reach everybody, to allow people to see poetry as part of everyday living in London, and all the different poetry traditions that people bring to London.”

“I am very much aware of the fact that I came out of a very different poetic tradition, and what that’s brought to my writing of the English language. So I want to be aware of the fact that people are carrying different poetic influences, whether they consider themselves poets or not,” she said.

Continue Reading


Bristol’s Somali Kitchen: Empowering women through cooking



Suad Yusuf set up the Somali Kitchen in Bristol to bring women together to share recipes, promote healthy eating and to support and empower one another.

Continue Reading


London lawyer acquitted of forcing daughter to undergo female genital mutilation



LONDON, (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – A London solicitor accused of forcing his daughter to undergo female genital mutilation was acquitted on Thursday, increasing pressure on police and prosecutors who have yet to secure a conviction for FGM more than 30 years after it was outlawed.

The prosecution was only the second to be brought under FGM legislation introduced in 1985.

During a nine-day trial at London’s Central Criminal Court, the prosecution alleged that the defendant had twice arranged for someone to come to the family home to cut his daughter as a form of punishment when she was around nine years old.

But the defendant, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said in an emotional testimony that the allegations were fabrications arising from a very acrimonious divorce.

He said his wife had repeatedly threatened to destroy him and had turned their children against him.

“I didn’t cut my daughter. I would never hurt my daughter,” he told the jury. “I would give my life for my children.”

A medical expert confirmed the girl’s genitalia had been cut but said the scars were unusual and could not say when the injuries occurred.

The 50-year-old lawyer, who comes from West Africa, said FGM was not practiced in his community and he had no idea who had cut his daughter. He was also cleared of three counts of child cruelty.

Police and prosecutors have faced mounting pressure in recent years to secure a conviction for FGM as part of broader efforts to eradicate the practice, which usually involves the partial or total removal of external genitalia.

An estimated 137,000 women and girls in England and Wales have undergone FGM, which affects immigrant communities from various countries including Somalia, Sierra Leone, Eritrea, Sudan, Nigeria and Egypt.

Politicians and campaigners, who believe thousands of girls in Britain are at risk of FGM, have said a successful prosecution would act as a deterrent.

Prosecutors were criticised over the first FGM trial in 2015 when a doctor was accused of performing FGM while treating a woman who had given birth. He was acquitted.

A leading obstetrician branded the trial a “ludicrous” travesty of justice which would leave doctors on labour wards terrified of touching women who had been subjected to FGM.

A second trial involving FGM – but brought under child cruelty laws – collapsed last month. (Editing by Katy Migiro. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, which covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, corruption and climate change. Visit to see more stories.)

Continue Reading