Sabina Nessa: Grieving family thanks hundreds at vigil for murdered teacher

‘No family should go through what we are going through’ says Jebina Yasmin Islam

Lamiat Sabin
Saturday 25 September 2021 07:26
Members of the public light candles and lay flowers at Sabina Nessa vigil
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The grieving sister of murdered teacher Sabina Nessa broke down in tears on Friday as she addressed several hundred mourners at a vigil marking one week since the killing.

"We have lost an amazing, caring, beautiful sister, who left this world far too early,” Jebina Yasmin Islam told the huge crowd at Pegler Square in Kidbooke, southeast London.

“Words cannot describe how we are feeling, this feels like we are stuck in a bad dream and can’t get out of it – our world is shattered, we are simply lost for words.

“No family should go through what we are going through.”

Nessa, 28, was attacked and killed near the square as she was on her way to meet a friend.

A 38-year-old man arrested on suspicion of murder was released under investigation earlier on Friday, while police are still hunting a man captured on CCTV near the scene.

Several hundred mourners gathered for the vigil in Kidbrooke for murdered teacher Sabina Nessa

Moments before the vigil began, the Duchess of Cambridge said she was "saddened by the loss of another innocent young woman on our streets.”

"My thoughts are with Sabina’s family and friends, and all those who have been affected by this tragic event,” Kate tweeted.

In March, the duchess privately visited the memorial to murdered marketing executive Sarah Everard in Clapham Common, south-west London, after the 33-year-old was killed by off-duty police officer Wayne Couzens.

As the vigil was taking place, a statement from Ms Nessa’s uncle, Shahin Miah, said the family is “devastated and distraught”.

The statement, read out at a parallel event at the east London mosque, he said: “I appear before you with great sorrow. We have no language to speak in these difficult times. There is no place for suffering like this.

“We are grateful to all who have been hurt, protested, sympathised with, and expressed concern for the safety of women throughout the UK, not just you, but throughout the UK.

Personal attack alarms were available at the vigil in Kidbrooke

“Any adversity teaches us to be united, gives us the strength to fight against injustice. Sabina is our grief today, Sabina is our courage today.”

Community safety officers were at the event, handing out personal attack alarms to women.

Banners at the event called for action to tackle violence against women, amid frustration at the lack of progress on protection.

Nellie, 20, from southwest London, said: “Her death is something I have absorbed as something that happens to women and that there’s not really much we can do about it.”

Anna Birley, policy lead at Reclaim These Streets, said women “should be safe regardless or what time it is and what they are wearing.”

“The burden on women has to shift,” she said. “Men perpetuate that violence and as a society we are not good enough in calling that out.”

Six months after the death of Sarah Everard “we are asking for the same basic things again,” she added. “Since Sarah died, nothing has changed. We are as vulnerable as ever.”

Zarah Sultana, Labour MP for Coventry South, said: “Women are questioning their safety again. [Sabina Nessa] died while on a five minute walk from her house. Which is why the community is in such deep shock.”

She said she attended the vigil to “show solidarity” with the Kidbrooke community.

She said that violence against women and girls needs to be tackled with a range of measures, including education of men and boys, and boosting investment in refuges, keeping parks and communities “well lit”, improving infrastructure, and addressing the under-reporting of sex-based crimes.

She said: “In politics, the instant reaction is more policing but more police officers do not always make us safer.”