Newham vigils hear demands for violence towards women to stop
- Credit: Jon King
Calls for men to stop being violent towards women and girls have been made at vigils honouring Sabina Nessa.
Candles were lit and flowers placed before photos of Ms Nessa as about 120 people attended events in Central Park and Plashet Park, East Ham, on Friday, October 1.
Police believe the 28-year-old teacher was killed in Cator Park, Kidbrooke, while on her way to meet a friend. Her body was found in the park on September 18.
The vigils also followed Sarah Everard's killer, former police officer Wayne Couzens, being sentenced to life at the Old Bailey on September 30.
Sabia Kamali from the women's group Sisters Forum - which organised the Central Park vigil - said: "All women should feel safe on the streets and at home.
"Violence against women and girls is not a women's safety issue - it's a male violence issue."
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The vigil was attended by borough commander Det Ch Supt Richard Tucker, who described the sentencing of Couzens as "a dark day" for the Met.
"The cops who work locally are your police. The expectations I have of them are your expectations. We come to work 24 hours a day to keep people safe," he added.
Ayse Hussain called for a memorial to remember her cousin Mary Jane and Henriett, whose bodies were found in Custom House. Their killer, Zahid Younis, was jailed for life on September 3, 2020.
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She alleged the police failed to act when Mary Jane went missing in 2018.
"Whoever you are, everyone should be treated the same," she said.
A spokesperson said the Met takes missing person reports incredibly seriously with officers carrying out "unbiased" risk assessments based on each case.
At Plashet Park's vigil, organised by Cllr Moniba Khan, fellow Newham councillor Pushpa Makwana urged women and girls to report harassment.
Speakers included councillors Harvinder Singh Virdee, Ayesha Chowdhury, Sabina's uncle Farooq Mian and East Ham MP Stephen Timms.
He said: "[Sabina's] loss is a terrible tragedy. Too often people feel unsafe and events like this tragic death make everybody feel on edge. We mustn't rest until it is the case that it is safe to walk up and down the street."
Carel Buxton, who chairs West Ham Labour constituency, said: "There's a very serious epidemic of violence in our society and we have to make a change.
"We have to fight for that change. There will never be liberation for women in our society without solidarity."