What didn’t happen next, many women, especially women of color, say, was the nationwide explosion of outrage over violence against women in Britain that came when 33-year-old Sarah Everard, who is White, was murdered by a police officer as she walked home in London earlier this year.
“Say her name,” angry social media users urged as they called on the British tabloids to report more broadly on Nessa’s death — which police have confirmed they are investigating as a murder.
Others tweeted photos of coverage from British newspapers — expressing disappointment that the killing was not front-page news. “Page 25!!!” exclaimed one Twitter user, in a tweet that soon went viral.
While attention to Nessa’s death has increased over time, many feel the lack of prominent coverage, particularly at the start, reflects how crimes against women of color are often overlooked.
Journalist Hannah Al-Othman said it was “quite astounding” that Nessa’s killing was “not dominating the news … the conversations about violence against women, and the stories about her life are sadly lacking.” Meanwhile, Farah Nazeer, the chief executive of Women’s Aid, said Nessa’s death was “as unacceptable and shocking as that of any other woman, and our headlines, TV coverage and outrage in our social media posts should reflect this.”
Metropolitan Police said Thursday night that a 38-year-old man had been held in the case.
Nessa’s killing and the backlash regarding the media’s handling of the case comes as the United States grapples with its own issues of how killings and disappearances of people from different ethnic backgrounds are reported.
The debate resurfaced following global interest in the case of 22-year-old Gabby Petito. Petito, who is White, was reported missing following a cross-country trip with her fiance, and found dead weeks later. Her case dominated social media platforms including TikTok and sparked round-the-clock national news coverage.
“It does make you feel, you know, ‘Well, what about us?’ ” Kimberly Bryan told The Washington Post this week. Six months after her sister Tiffany Foster, a Black mother of three, went missing, her case remains largely unheard of.
In Wyoming, where Petito’s body was discovered, Native Americans voiced concerns that disappearances within their own community largely go ignored.
British police say they believe Nessa was attacked around 8.30 p.m. local time on Friday — at a time when Cator Park, in the town of Kidbrooke in South East London, would still have been busy with people out exercising. Officers continue to appeal for witnesses to come forward with any information.
The school Nessa worked at said it was “devastated” over her passing, while Nessa’s cousin Zubel Ahmed told the BBC that her parents and sisters remain “inconsolable.”
Ahmed described his cousin as “the most kind, caring person — kindest, sweetest girl you could meet” and said that back at her home, her cats were “looking for her.”
“She’s been teaching for two years. Loves teaching, loves kids. She was just a beautiful soul,” he said.
Nessa’s death comes just six months after the Everard case sparked national outrage, including protests and candlelit vigils across the country. Everard’s death highlighted the treatment of women in public spaces as women across Britain recalled their own stories of abuse and harassment.
At the time, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was “shocked and deeply saddened” by Everard’s murder, while the organization U.N. Women United Kingdom released data showing that 70 percent of British women surveyed said they had experienced sexual harassment in public.
A vigil for Nessa is set to take place Friday evening in the local community as officials continue the investigation.
An official report published Sept. 17 — the same day Nessa was last seen alive — called on British police to treat “an epidemic” of violence against women with as much urgency as fighting terrorism.
“I think we need to make misogyny a hate crime,” London Mayor Sadiq Khan said in a television interview with “Good Morning Britain” on Thursday when asked about Nessa’s death. He added that males, from a young age, should be taught to respect women.
British authorities say a man in his 40s was arrested on suspicion of murder and was held for a few hours in relation to Nessa’s death but was later released under investigation pending further inquiries.