'When will women be safe?': Hundreds gather for Sabina Nessa vigil

5 October 2021, 20:56

Hundreds attended the vigil for the schoolteacher
Hundreds attended the vigil for the schoolteacher. Picture: Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

Hundreds of people have gathered to honour schoolteacher Sabina Nessa in Eastbourne, the seaside town where the man accused of her murder was arrested.

It comes amid continuing public outrage and debate over women's safety and policing.

Around 200 people gathered at the pier to pay tribute and protest the "crisis" of violence against women.

The peaceful demonstration was marked by cheers and applause as those addressing the crowd spoke out against victim blaming.

The 28-year-old teacher had been walking to meet a friend at a pub near her home when she was fatally attacked.

Her body was found nearly 24 hours later covered with leaves near a community centre in Cator Park in Kidbrooke, south-east London.

People carried placards and pictures of Ms Nessa at the vigil.
People carried placards and pictures of Ms Nessa at the vigil. Picture: Alamy

Speaking to those gathered on the seafront on Tuesday evening, co-organiser Natasha Peacock said: "Sabina Nessa should still be alive.

"She was loved and she will be deeply missed."

Many of those attending held pictures of Ms Nessa, while others carried signs calling out male violence or remembering Sarah Everard.

One placard read "When will women be safe?" while another said: "She was just walking home".

Various speakers addressed the crowds.
Various speakers addressed the crowds. Picture: Alamy

Ms Peacock continued: "Women are frightened for their lives.

"We are having to consider the risk of going out alone past 6pm and potentially getting, attacked, raped or murdered and the advice to flag down busses does not make us feel safe.

"This is a crisis. We need to make the safety of women and girls a priority."

Attendees lit up the sky in memory of Ms Nessa.
Attendees lit up the sky in memory of Ms Nessa. Picture: Alamy

Speakers continued to address the crowd for almost an hour before everyone paused in reflection while a Muslim prayer was read out.

The vigil came to an end with a minute's silence for Ms Nessa, as people raised their phone torches into the air in the gathering dark.

Koci Selamaj was arrested in the East Sussex town in the early hours of 26 September.

Selamaj, 36, from Eastbourne, has indicated that he will deny the charge of murder.

He has been remanded in custody ahead of a plea hearing on 16 December.

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