Hundreds of women have taken part in a protest march to mark the anniversary of the murders of Nicole Smallman and Bibaa Henry.
The March On The Met protest – organised by the Women’s Equality Party (WEP) – saw participants gather yesterday evening to march a 10-mile route from Wembley’s Fryent Park (where the sisters were murdered) to New Scotland Yard in their honour.
The pair were attacked and stabbed to death while attending a birthday celebration at Wembley’s Fryent Country Park in June 2020. Their bodies were found the following day by Smallman’s boyfriend, the day after they had been reported missing to the police.
The event was also held in honour of the 200 women who have lost their lives to male violence since Smallman and Henry’s murders, with speakers including Game Of Thrones star Nathalie Emmanuel and activist Dr Shola Mos-Shogbamimu addressing the crowd at a rally against racism and misogyny in policing.
“What happened to Bibaa and Nicole is the story of our country,” WEP leader Mandu Reid told the crowd. “They were murdered by a young man radicalised on the internet. We don’t talk about how misogyny permeates every aspect of our society.”
Reid also spoke about how identity plays into the treatment of victims like Henry and Smallman: “What’s also the story of our country is how some victims matter more than others. How the violence women face is not treated with the severity it should be. Misogyny and racism are baked into where power is held. We are here to write a different ending to that story.”
As the march made its way through central London, protestors held banners highlighting the problem of racism and misogyny in policing as well as signs criticising the police’s response to the sisters’ murders.
Smallman and Henry’s killer – 19-year-old Danyal Hussein – was sentenced to a minimum of 35 years in prison last October, and an Independent Office for Police Conduct report into the police’s handling of the case also found that that the service provided to Smallman and Henry’s family was “below the standard that it should have been”.
Two Met police officers – PC Deniz Jaffer, 47, and PC Jamie Lewis, 33 – were jailed for two years and nine months each at the end of last year, after it was revealed that they had taken photos of the sisters’ dead bodies and sent them to other officers via WhatsApp, describing them as “dead birds”.
In a statement released in partnership with her local Labour MP, Dawn Butler, to mark the anniversary of Henry and Smallman’s murder, the sisters’ mother Mina Smallman demanded tackling violence against women and girls in London is made an “urgent priority”.
“Today marks two years since two beautiful sisters, Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman, were brutally murdered in a park in Brent,” the statement read. “They must never be forgotten along with the countless other women whose lives have been taken too soon at the hands of men.”
The statement said male violence against women and girls had reached “endemic proportions” and called for “long overdue action” to tackle it.
“Continuing as we are will not solve it – we need systemic, institutional reforms,” the statement continued. “The government and Metropolitan Police must undertake coordinated sustainable action to tackle violence against women and girls – on the streets, in the home, in the workplace, online and wherever else it may take place. Because enough is enough.”
The Metropolitan Police also released a statement to mark the anniversary, saying its “thoughts and deepest sympathies” were with the friends and family of the sisters.
“The level of service we provided was below the standard it should have been and no doubt compounded the distress felt by their loved ones,” the Met told the BBC. “We are sorry for the truly despicable actions of PCs Jaffer and Lewis. They are in prison because of it.
“Improving the culture and standards within the Met is a priority for us, as we seek to rebuild Londoners’ trust and confidence in their police service.”
Images: Marita Upeniece & Smallman/Henry family