"She's not the only woman who has lost her life like this," announced the family of Zara Aleena. "In the moment of this tragedy, we extend our deepest sympathy and love to the families of Bibaa Henry; Nicole Smallman; Sarah Everard; Sabina Nessa; Ashling Murphy and many more women."
Zara Aleena was murdered on Sunday 26 June while she was walking home in East London.
The 35-year-old was found by members of the public with "serious head injuries" at approximately 2.45am. She later died in hospital.
The "opportunist stranger attack" took place 10 minutes from her home, on Cranbrook Road, Ilford, with 29-year-old Jordan McSweeney charged with her murder, attempted rape and robbery.
He has been remanded in custody and will appear at the Old Bailey on Wednesday 27 July.
“Zara, 35, a beloved human, child, niece, cousin, granddaughter, friend to all, she was a joy to all of us,” the family of Zara Aleena announced in the statement. “She was a carer for her mother, and her grandmother. Caring for others came so naturally to her. Zara was friendly, she was everybody's friend. She was everybody's daughter, everybody's niece, everybody's sister, everybody's cousin. She was pure of heart.
“She was a joy to all of us, her sparkling eyes and the curly, jet-black hair. Her glorious laughter and her sweet, smiling voice. Her tiny frame embodied a passionate spirit and indomitable energy. Zara was brought up by the whole of our family. She was our love in human form.”
Later in the powerful tribute, Zara Aleena’s family went on to talk about violence against women and call for urgent action on street safety.
“She was fierce: she didn't just survive, she thrived”, read the heartbreaking statement. “She walked everywhere. She put her party shoes in a bag and donned her trainers. She walked. Zara believed that a woman should be able to walk home. Now, her dreams of a family are shattered, her future brutally taken.
“Sadly, Zara is not the only one who has had her life taken at the hands of a stranger. We all know women should be safe on our streets. She was in the heart of her community, 10 minutes from home. We all need to be talking about what happened to OUR ZARA, we all need to be talking about this tragedy.
“These last few days have been shocking and unimaginable.
“In a savage, sickening, act she was murdered by a stranger. She's not the only woman who has lost her life like this. In the moment of this tragedy, we extend our deepest sympathy and love to the families of Bibaa Henry; Nicole Smallman; Sarah Everard; Sabina Nessa; Ashling Murphy and many more women.
“We must PREVENT and STOP violence against women and girls.
“Our loss is irreparable and the void feels insurmountable but the warmth and kindness that our community has shown is testament to the power of Zara's spirit. Her life has been stolen from us. She has been stolen from us all."
Our thoughts are with Zara Aleena’s loved ones.
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Jenny Proudfoot is an award-winning journalist, specialising in lifestyle, culture, entertainment, international development and politics. She has worked at Marie Claire UK for seven years, rising from intern to Features Editor and is now the most published Marie Claire writer of all time. She was made a 30 under 30 award-winner last year and named a rising star in journalism by the Professional Publishers Association.
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