February 4, 2023

A government adviser on violence against women appears to have effectively resigned from her role on live radio after saying she is on a “completely different planet” from Interior Secretary Suella Braverman.

Nimco Ali, a social activist who was appointed to the independent role by then Home Secretary Priti Patel in 2020, used an interview to criticize Braverman’s stance on the issue and announce her intention to step down from her role.

Asked if she was happy to stay on as an independent adviser despite disagreeing with the Home Secretary, she told Times Radio: “No. I am committed to ending violence against women and girls, and I believe there are many opportunities to continue that.”

Ali, a female genital mutilation survivor who campaigns against the practice, added: “I’m just saying that Suella and I are on completely different planets when it comes to women’s and girls’ rights, and also the way where we talk about it. ethnic minorities, and especially people like me who have a refugee background.”

The CEO of the Five Foundation, whose website says it advocates for “better flows of funding to women on the African continent and beyond,” wondered if her time as an advisor was coming to an end because of a disagreement with Braverman.

She said: “I think the reasonable conclusion is that I wouldn’t be comfortable. I think I can definitely say I wouldn’t feel comfortable serving under Suella or rather saying she’s someone we probably share the same feminist ideals with.’

The Home Office declined to comment, while a source in Whitehall claimed Ali’s contract was due to expire on December 22.

In May, Ali suggested in an interview that her calls to criminalize street harassment were blocked. She told the BBC’s Political Thinking with Nick Robinson podcast that her plan had passed “pushback”, suggesting that the then Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, had not fully supported the proposals.

Ali insisted that street harassment — such as wolf whistling, calling after, persistent staring or asking a stranger to smile — would be punishable by on-the-spot fines for offenders. She said Patel was “completely behind” her campaign as Home Secretary, but “then you meet other people who say no”.

“It was frustrating and disappointing,” she added.

When asked if this came from the Prime Minister’s advisers, she replied that the source was “much closer”, adding that people could interpret “my silence”.

However, No 10 said at the time that tackling violence against women was a top priority.

On Thursday, the Home Office concluded it supported calls to criminalize sexual harassment in public after the consultation showed that “the vast majority” of respondents were in favour.

A source close to Braverman said: “The Secretary of the Interior is committed to making our streets and homes safer for women and girls. That is why she has made violence against women and girls one of her top priorities at the Interior Ministry and today supported a new law against public sexual harassment.

“She will continue to focus on these policies and the rights of women and girls to live safely in our country.”

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