Hundreds gathered in east London for a silent vigil for Zara Aleena on Saturday. All dressed in white, the community came together near Aleena’s family home in Ilford to ‘walk Zara home’.
The 35-year-old was murdered just minutes from her front door as she was walking back from a night out on June 26. Aleena is remembered as someone who always carried trainers in her bag as she believed all women should be able to walk home safely.
Her family members led the procession, which retraced the route the law graduate never got to finish. The vigil was described as ‘sombre and silent’. Still in shock, the tearful crowd left flowers, cards and candles on Cranbrook Road where Aleena lived.
Farah Naz, Aleena’s aunt, told the crowd: ‘Zara was on the home stretch. Thank you so much for doing the walk and holding her in your hearts, praying for her, keeping her safe on this journey.’
She also called on politicians to end systemic violence against women, adding, ‘This is our issue, this is something that we must all change, it must never happen again.’
Mayor Sadiq Khan said: ‘Women should not have to change their behaviour and every woman and girl is entitled to be safe, and to feel safe – whatever the time of day and wherever they are. We owe it to Zara to do everything possible to bring an end to violence against women and girls.’
Anjum Mouj, co-chair of the London Black Women’s Project, also gave a moving speech at the vigil. She said: ‘She is not responsible for what happened to her, society is responsible for what happened to her. It’s July 2, nearly 60 women have died this year … Shame on our society, shame on our political leaders, that they for one moment thought that this wouldn’t happen.
‘Rest in power, Zara, rest in power. We’re going to walk you home.’