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Zara Aleena: Hundreds at vigil for woman killed as she walked home from night out

‘We walk Zara home in our hearts’

Emily Atkinson
Saturday 02 July 2022 17:41 BST
<p>Floral tributes left on Cranbrook Road in east London, where Aleena was killed </p>

Floral tributes left on Cranbrook Road in east London, where Aleena was killed

Hundreds of people have gathered to “walk home” Zara Aleena, a 35-year-old woman who was killed on her way home from a night out.

Zara was allegedly murdered on June 26 while walking along Cranbrook Road in Ilford, east London – just minutes from her front door.

The Londoner was dragged, kicked and stamped on, prosecutors have said, and a post-mortem examination found she suffered multiple serious injuries.

On Saturday, almost a week after her death, people joined hands at a vigil organised by her family to comfort her loved ones and walk with Ms Aleena “in their hearts” along the route she never had the chance to complete.

The law graduate was killed minutes from her front door

The vigil was also marked by some as a means of highlighting an “epidemic” of male violence against women and girls.

Mourners arrived in white clothing, and many left bouquets of flowers and cards in tribute. Cranbrook Road was also blocked off in the area so the crowd could safely complete the 10-minute journey from the scene of her attack to her home.

The procession of mourners was led by members of Ms Aleena’s family as they traced the walk she should have taken home.

Many held flowers and pictures of Ms Aleena and wore T-shirts bearing her image.

Marai Larasi, a member of campaign group Million Women Rise, said: “We’re here to support the family, we’re here to bring her home in spirit, we’re here to honour her life, and we’re here with absolute exhaustion because we’re tired of vigils, we’re tired of crying and we’re tired of having to bury women of all ages and stages in life.”

Speaking to media on Friday, Ms Aleena’s aunt said her niece had been in her own local community, in an area she knew well where she felt safe, when she was killed.

Farah Naz said the family was determined to try to “change something” and compel the political leaders of Britain to act “right now to prevent violence”.

She said: “[Her niece] was not ignorant to the fact that women get hurt. This isn’t about making the streets safe, it’s about changing the mindset.”

Farah Naz, Aleena’s aunt, said her niece was in an area she felt safe in when she was murdered

Weeping, Ms Naz added: “We will never get through this, but it [the walk] will help us.”

Those attending the gathering met at 1.30pm opposite Cranbrook Rise on Cranbrook Road in Ilford, and started the walk at 2.17pm – the time in the morning on June 26 Ms Aleena was attacked.

In anticipation of the silent vigil for Zara, women have been sharing photos of their shoes on social media with the hashtag #SafelyHomeInOurShoes.

Jordan McSweeney, 29, of Church Elm Lane, Dagenham, east London, appeared at the Old Bailey on Friday accused of murder, attempted rape and robbery over Aleena’s death.

He entered no pleas and was remanded in custody.

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