Zara Aleena: Dewsbury stands in solidarity at town hall vigil

A vigil organised in Dewsbury saw residents stand in solidarity for Zara Aleena, a law graduate who was murdered last month.

By Jessica Barton
Tuesday, 5th July 2022, 4:30 pm
The vigil took place on Saturday, July 2, outside Dewsbury Town Hall.
The vigil took place on Saturday, July 2, outside Dewsbury Town Hall.

After a night out with friends, 35 year old Zara was walking along Cranbrook Road in Ilford – ten minutes from her home – when she was attacked in what police described as a “horrific assault”.

The vigil in memory of Zara was held on Saturday, July 2 outside Dewsbury Town Hall and was orchestrated by Batley East councillor Fazila Loonat, with support from Tanisha Bramwell.

Coun Loonat said: “The vigil went very well and we had a wide range of people that attended from all backgrounds.

The vigil was joined by speakers who shared their own stories.

“It was heart-warming to see many people stopping, listening and nodding in agreement with the speakers.

“However, this vigil wasn't about how many people attended, it was about marking, respecting, raising awareness and standing in solidarity with all the victims.

“Violence against women has increased and it is becoming quite scary and as women, we all feel that insecurity sometimes.

“However, this shouldn't be the case and walking home like Zara was doing should be safe.

“All women should be able to walk whenever we want, wherever we want free from the threat of violence, rape or murder.

“Somebody asked ‘why are you doing this now?’ But when do we do it? Do we just wait for it to happen to someone we know?

“We need to raise awareness now and stand in solidarity for those who have been attacked.

“As a councillor I know we have a budget for domestic violence which has come through, but we need people’s voices to help us shape the budget that has been allocated.

“Thank you to everyone who showed their support and helped raise voices for those who are not able to.

“By taking part in this vigil, hopefully it will give someone else a voice if they need to reach out for help.”

The vigil heard from a mix of speakers and was a public event open to everyone, with many passers-by showing their support.

Tanisha said: “It was a really powerful moment and I was extremely happy with how it went.

“It was really nice, not only to raise awareness, but to have the response that we had in the town centre, everyone that saw us and saw the signs, took a moment and listened.

“We had young girls who spoke and told their stories, which was a powerful moment for them and their families that came to support them.

“These young girls also brought their brothers down so they could be educated as young men.

“It was educational, because it doesn't matter who stood up and spoke, we all had our own stories.

“I am very thankful for how it went and how it was taken by the community.

“We don't want to do it, we didn't want to be there, but I hope it is the start of raising this awareness.”