LONDON (AP) — Hundreds gathered Friday in southeast London to light candles and to mourn for slain primary school teacher Sabina Nessa while demanding an end to violence against women.
Nessa’s death — as she walked through a park to meet a friend a few minutes from her home — is the second high-profile killing of a young woman this year in London, and fueled concerns that women aren't safe on the streets of Britain's capital.
Nessa, 28, was found dead in Kidbrooke, southeast London on Sept. 17. Detectives believe she was attacked during what should have been a five-minute walk to meet a friend at a nearby pub.
The Duchess of Cambridge expressed her sorrow in a tweet signed with her initial to indicate it came from her personally and wasn't posted by a staff member. The former Kate Middleton, wife of Prince William, also offered personal condolences after the death of Sara Everard, 33, who was abducted and killed in March as she walked home in another part of the city.
“I am saddened by the loss of another innocent young woman on our streets,'' the duchess tweeted. “My thoughts are with Sabina’s family and friends, and all those who have been affected by this tragic event. C”
The primary school teacher’s family made an impassioned plea for women to “keep safe” as people prepared to pay their respects at the vigil.
“What happened to Sabina is every parent’s nightmare and every woman’s worst fear,'' London Mayor Sadiq Khan said ahead of the vigil. “Her death is a tragedy, and I stand with the community in Kidbrooke and Londoners across our city, united in grief and united in our determination that justice is done.”
Police on Friday released CCTV footage of a man who was seen along Nessa's route on the night she was killed, asking anyone who recognizes him to contact them immediately. Another man arrested in connection with the investigation was released Friday.
Nessa’s death came just six months after Everard's slaying shocked the country. An off-duty police officer has admitted raping and killing her.
Thousands took to the streets to mourn her death and denounce violence against women, clashing with police who sought to enforce COVID-19 restrictions limiting large gatherings that were still in place at the time.
By contrast, Friday night's vigil near where Nessa's body was found was peaceful.
Khan has described violence against women as a national “epidemic.” He said more than 180 women have been killed by men across England from March 2020.
Halima Begum, a friend of Nessa's family, urged those attending the vigil to show solidarity for women across London.
“All we can do is hope for no more horrendous instances like this, and the countless others these past few months,” she said.
Danica Kirka, The Associated Press