Vigil held for Zara Aleena, a Briton attacked and killed while walking

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LONDON — Britain is getting uneasy about holding vigils in memory of young women killed while walking in the streets.

On Saturday, relatives, friends and neighbors of Zara Aleena, 35, gathered at the spot where she was killed in Ilford, east London, to complete the walk back she never made it . Aleena was attacked early on Sunday morning, just 10 minutes from her home, and died later that day in hospital.

Her family have planned a silent vigil and a march in her memory to highlight what they say is an epidemic of violence against young women in the capital. Hundreds of people are expected to attend the event, with attendees asked to wear white to show solidarity and raise awareness of the issue of women’s safety. Similar vigils will also be held in a handful of other cities across Brittany.

Earlier this week, Jordan McSweeney, 29, was charged with the murder, attempted rape and robbery of Aleena, London’s Metropolitan Police said in a statement. He will now be judged.

Aleena’s family say she was “murdered by an unknown person” and cited the cases of Sarah Everard, Sabina Nessa and several other young women killed in the capital over the past two years.

Everard, 33, made global headlines last year when she was kidnapped in south London and then murdered by London police officer Wayne Couzens, prompting outcry and vigils attended by lawmakers and members of the royal family.

Months later, the murder of Sabina Nessa, a 28-year-old teacher who was killed by a man as she walked to meet a friend, has further shocked the country and fueled a national debate on gender-based violence.

“I wish today’s vigil didn’t happen,” Anna Birley, founder of British advocacy group Reclaim These Streets, wrote in an op-ed published in the Guardian on Saturday.

“When we held the vigil for Sarah Everard, it was like a turning point. The Prime Minister lit a candle for her on the doorstep of No 10, and politicians from all parties were saying ‘never again “…but more than a year later, any change has been cosmetic,” she added.

“It’s not about dark corners but about the attitudes and behaviors of some of the men who occupy them.”

Aleena’s family said she had been a carer for her mother and grandmother and was on her way to becoming a qualified lawyer. She also worked to support refugees, they said.

“She was a joy to all of us, her sparkling eyes and jet-black curly hair. Her glorious laugh and soft, smiling voice. Her petite body embodied a passionate spirit and indomitable energy,” her aunt said. Farah Naz in a statement on behalf of the family.

“She was genuine and refused to try to impress anyone, but she impressed us.”

Most strikingly, her aunt said, Aleena was “walking everywhere.”

“She put her evening shoes in a bag and put on her sneakers. She walked. Zara believed that a woman should be able to walk home. Now her family dreams are shattered, her future brutally taken.

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London Mayor Sadiq Khan called Aleena an ‘extraordinary woman’ and tweeted“We must end the scourge of male violence that kills women. I am completely committed to making our city as safe as possible for everyone. »

The British coalition group End Violence Against Women is one of dozens charities and women’s groups are joining Saturday’s march. “Let’s unite to honor her life and accompany her home”, the group tweeted.

On social networks, many women also shared photos of their shoes with the hashtag #SafelyHomeInOurShoes in a show of solidarity with Aleena and to highlight their own fears and stories.

Last year, a UK watchdog called violence against women an “epidemic” and said authorities should tackle the problem with as much urgency as the fight against terrorism. On average, a woman is killed by a man in Britain every three days, he found.

‘Needle point’ fears are growing in Europe, but the crime is ‘really hard’ to trace

A new wave of alarm has also swept through the young female population this year, after a growing number of reports of ‘needle pointing’ – which involves someone being given an injection without their knowledge or consent, usually in a nightclub or bar.

Although the total number of reported incidents with needles remains far below the number of alcohol-related incidents, UK police chiefs have been urged to assess the extent of the attacks as cases also rise in continental Europe.

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