Today, we mark a significant milestone in our quest for justice, I stand before you with a heavy heart and a renewed determination. The tragic murder of Zara Aleena, a bright and promising young woman whose life was cut short by a senseless act of violence. As we reflect upon the sentencing of her murderer, we must also acknowledge the enduring legacy that Zara leaves behind. Zara’s name will live on within the hearts of everyone in Ilford. Her memory serves as a poignant reminder of the hopes and dreams she held for the future – a future that was unfairly stolen from her. Yet, despite the darkness that shrouded her untimely departure, we are resolved to let Zara’s story inspire us all.

In the aftermath of this devastating loss, my office, along with the unwavering support of the community, has tirelessly worked to ensure that Zara’s legacy is one of true safety for women and girls. We have actively sought justice for her and her grieving family, ensuring that the wheels of the legal system turned resolutely to hold her murderer accountable. While this sentencing brings a measure of closure, our work is far from complete.

We remain steadfast in our commitment to creating a society where such heinous crimes are never repeated. Zara’s memory will serve as a guiding light in our ongoing efforts to strengthen the safety and security of women in Ilford. Through collaborative initiatives, advocacy, and continued engagement with community organisations, we aim to foster an environment where women and girls can thrive without fear.

We understand that achieving this goal requires addressing the root causes of violence and discrimination, dismantling patriarchal structures, and promoting gender equality in all aspects of our society.

Zara’s legacy, therefore, calls upon us to take action. It urges us to challenge outdated attitudes, educate our youth, and create spaces where women feel empowered and supported. We will continue to work tirelessly to ensure that her dreams and aspirations for a safer future become a reality.

As we move forward, let us hold Zara’s family in our thoughts, extending our unwavering support and compassion. We must stand together, united against violence and injustice, to honor Zara’s memory and ensure that her spirit lives on within the fabric of our community.

Let us remember Zara Aleena as a symbol of resilience, determination, and hope. May her tragic loss inspire us to redouble our efforts in creating a society where the safety and well-being of women and girls are non-negotiable principles.