On Sunday 26 June, a man murdered Zara Aleena as she walked home in Ilford, East London. Jordan McSweeney appeared at Thames Magistrates’ Court on 29 June. He was charged with her murder, as well as robbery and attempted rape.
Aleena’s devastated family shared a moving tribute ahead of a vigil to ‘walk her home’ on Saturday.
Solidarity and condolences
A man attacked Aleena near her home in Ilford, East London at 2am as she was on her way home from a night out.
In a moving tribute to their slain loved one, Aleena’s family shared:
She walked everywhere. She put her party shoes in a bag and donned her trainers. She walked. Zara believed that a woman should be able to walk home. Now, her dreams of a family are shattered, her future brutally taken.
Many took to Twitter to share their solidarity and condolences. Deborah Coles – the director of INQUEST, a charity that works to support bereaved families impacted by state violence – tweeted:
A beautiful family tribute to Zara, another woman’s life cut short by male violence. “her sense of justice and fairness led her to a life of giving and caring for others – supporting refugees fleeing violence, giving voice to those who had less power." https://t.co/rcgnlPmdaz
— Deborah Coles (@DebatINQUEST) June 29, 2022
Zarah Sultana, Labour MP for Coventry South, shared:
Zara Aleena should have gotten home safely.
All women should be able to walk wherever we want, whenever we want, free from the threat of violence and murder.
It’s hard to find words to express the grief and rage.
My love and prayers are with Zara’s loved ones 🤍
— Zarah Sultana MP (@zarahsultana) June 29, 2022
And writer Taj Ali said:
My thoughts and prayers are with Zara Aleena and her loved ones. A 35-year-old woman who was brutally beaten to death by a stranger in Ilford, east London on Sunday. She is the 16th woman to be murdered in London this year. Inna lillahi wa ina ilayhi raji'un. pic.twitter.com/QUslCTB4iH
— Taj Ali (@Taj_Ali1) June 28, 2022
Not an isolated incident
In their statement, Aleena’s family said:
In a savage, sickening, act she was murdered by a stranger. She’s not the only woman who has lost her life like this. In the moment of this tragedy, we extend our deepest sympathy and love to the families of Bibaa Henry; Nicole Smallman; Sarah Everard; Sabina Nessa; Ashling Murphy and many more women.
We must PREVENT and STOP violence against women and girls.
As The Canary‘s Eliza Egret highlighted following the murder of Sabrina Nessa in September 2021, women are even more at risk of experiencing misogynistic violence in their own homes.
Reflecting this, feminist campaign group Level Up shared:
Zara Aleena is the 52nd woman in the UK this year to be killed by a man.
How many more of us will be murdered this year on our way home – or in our own homes?
How many more men will feel entitled to take our bodies – our lives?
— Level Up (@we_level_up) June 30, 2022
Stop the victim blaming
Responding to a victim blaming response to Aleena’s murder, journalist Lorraine King shared:
This is peak victim blaming.
Zara Aleena and every other woman have the right to walk home whatever time of the day or night.
The issue is men who think they have the right to murder women. pic.twitter.com/aUBhIIDuNc
— Lorraine King (@lorrainemking) June 27, 2022
Underlining that it isn’t women’s responsibility to moderate their behaviour in the face of misogynistic violence, another Twitter user shared:
“Why was she walking?”
“Why was she out at 3am?”
“She should of..”
“Why didn’t she…?”
FUCK OFF! She had EVERY right to walk where tf she wanted at any time! Zara Aleena was innocent. I’m sick of Women being blamed for Men’s violence towards them 🤬
— Charlotte (@Charlotte_x91) June 27, 2022
Indeed, male violence is the issue here. This systemic issue demands a systemic response. This means a total transformation of our culture and society. Every man has a role to play in this.
Vigil to ‘walk Zara home’
Aleena’s family plans to hold a vigil in her memory on Saturday 2 July at 1:30pm to “walk her home”.
The End Violence Against Women Coalition campaign group tweeted:
Please read this powerful message from Zara Aleena's family join them in remembering her this Saturday at 1.30pm opposite Cranbrook Rise in Ilford.
Let’s unite to honour her life and walk her home. pic.twitter.com/3PMbrZ4vd4
— EVAW Coalition (@EVAWuk) June 29, 2022
Aleena’s family is inviting members of the public to join them and help to ‘walk her home’. They have asked attendees to wear white, and to maintain a “silent and sombre” atmosphere for the vigil.
Featured image via Mike Ralph/Unsplash resized 770 x 403px
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