The aunt of slain aspiring lawyer Zara Aleena said she is “always hopeful” of change in a system that is “broken across the board” and fails to protect women, as she joined hundreds of protesters against male violence on Saturday.
Farah Naz spoke out as she took part in the protest organized to commemorate female victims of male violence and a call to action to address it.
Supporters of the Million Women Rise (MWR) collective walking through central London’s West End shopping district to Trafalgar Square claimed that the lack of action against male violence amounted to state-inflicted or sanctioned abuse.
They drummed, chanted and carried signs reading “together we can end male violence” and “women are not the problem” during the protest ahead of International Women’s Day on Wednesday.
Ms Naz told the PA news agency: “The loss of Zara is the loss of society.”
Farah Naz, the aunt of slain aspiring lawyer Zara Aleena, took part in the Million Women Rise protest march through London on Saturday
Supporters of the Million Women Rise (MWR) collective argue that the lack of action against male violence amounted to state-inflicted or sanctioned abuse
Protesters carried signs reading ‘together we can end male violence’ and ‘women are not the problem’ during the protest ahead of International Women’s Day on Wednesday
Those who took part in the march listened as Farah Naz, aunt of murdered aspiring lawyer Zara Aleena, told the crowd, “Zara brought me, my sister and my friends here, but we are here for all women, all girls, to change and give meaning to the tragedy.’
Aspiring lawyer Zara Aleena, 35, was sexually assaulted and murdered by Jordan McSweeney, 29, in Ilford, east London, last June
She added: “Zara brought me, my sister and my friends here, but we are here for all women, all girls, to make a change and give meaning to the tragedy that happened to us.
“We are in a trauma but at the same time we are really strengthened by the support in society from all sectors and leaders.
“We hope things can change for other women and girls.”
Probation deficiencies were among the issues that left a known perpetrator free to kill Mrs. Aleena.
Jordan McSweeney, 29, was given a life sentence and a sentence of at least 38 years after admitting to sexually assaulting and murdering the 35-year-old law graduate in Ilford, east London, in June last year.
In a breaking voice, Mrs. Naz said, “We lost Zara, but we don’t want her death to be the end.
“The loss of Zara is the loss of society and we as victims must become more than that. We need to work with communities and leaders.
“Today’s protest shines a light on the mistakes and on a system that is broken across the board.
“We know from the Zara case that probation has made a series of mistakes, massive mistakes, that are so deeply painful for us as a family and for us as a society to be aware of because it means women are not safe.”
The number of women murdered is a sign that something is wrong, she added.
Jordan McSweeney, 29, received a life sentence for the murder of Zara Aleena
Ms Naz said: ‘We already know that domestic violence leads to so many deaths and that as it is not treated like any other form of violence, we have seen a lack of convictions, freeing men to kill women.
“We know that the probation has collapsed because of the privatization that has taken place and then led to a system that is broken and has not been addressed.
“We know that reviews were written from when other people were killed and the recommendations were not followed.
“We know that government leaders have let us down.
“We know that the systems have let us down, but there are also people working to change that.”
Danyal Hussein was sentenced to a minimum of 35 years in prison for the 2020 murder of sisters Nicole Smallman, 27, and Bibaa Henry, 46.
Deniz Jaffer and Jamie Lewis, a pair of Met Police officers who took pictures of the murdered sisters and shared the images on WhatsApp groups, were later jailed.
In a video message of support, Mina Smallman, the mother of the sisters, told the protesters, “We have so much important work to do.
‘The slogan I would like to pass on to everyone is: ‘it’s time’. We’ve talked enough. We’ve had enough rhetoric. Now we demand that those in power put the safety of girls and women first.’
MWR also noted that serial rapist David Carrick kept his job as a Metropolitan Police officer despite multiple reports against him, allowing him to commit a series of offenses over nearly 20 years.
The disgraced 48-year-old PC, who was described by some of his dozen victims as a “monster” and “evil”, was given life with a minimum sentence of 32 years after carrying out a “catalogue of violent and brutal” sexual assaults between 2003 and 2020.
The cost-of-living crisis also traps women with offenders and decimates vital support services, MWR warned.