CHICAGO, IL — In life, Sania Khan used her experience as a South Asian woman whose marriage was ending to inspire conversations about toxic relationships and the stigma of divorce in her community.

In death, she is doing the same.

Khan, 29, was fatally shot July 18 by her estranged husband in a murder-suicide at her Streeterville home, according to police. Her killing has generated discussion across the internet about how gender norms in South Asian culture can put women in an uncomfortable and even unsafe position.

“Bestie, stop ignoring those red flags,” said Khan, who was Muslim and of Pakistani descent, in a TikTok post in May. “They’re the same reason you leave him later.”

Khan was from Chattanooga but moved about a year ago to Chicago, where she worked as a photographer, according to her business website. She married 36-year-old Raheel Ahmad, then her partner of five years, around the same time, but sought a divorce in February due to irreconcilable differences, The Chicago Tribune reported. Ahmad had been living in Alpharetta, Georgia, at the time of his death, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office.

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“Going through a divorce as a Southasian woman feels like you failed at life sometimes,” Khan, who had nearly 20,000 TikTok followers, said last month in a post on the app.

“The way the community labels you, the lack of emotional support you receive, and the pressure to stay with someone because ‘what will people say’ is isolating. It makes it harder for women to leave marriages that they shouldn’t have been in to begin with.”

Khan’s death was followed by an outpouring of similar sentiments online.

“Sania was vocal about the tough times in her life, how her family did not support her decision to divorce, and what a huge toll it took on her,” said an Instagram post from womanistan, which has over 250,000 followers.

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“Women in our society are repeatedly subjected to domestic violence and emotional abuse yet are told to bear it all, stick it out, and stay in a miserable marriage because their families just can’t handle the ‘shame’ it would bring upon them.”

Prior to her death, Khan appeared in TikTok videos preparing for a friend’s wedding, taking part in a photo shoot and out dancing.

“I had always assumed that once you walk away you have survived, but with Sania we see that this wasn’t the case,” said an Instagram post from unsweetened and unfiltered, a podcast for Muslim women. “Society is too busy demonizing the victim for seeking divorce and walking away rather than holding the abuser accountable for all that they have done.”

Khan was a graduate of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and the Chattanooga School of Arts and Science, which has established a scholarship in her honor, to be given to a female graduate planning to pursue fine arts in the University of Tennessee system, according to Local 3 News.

“Her own community traumatized her into feeling guilty about choices to move on from the abuse,” Bangladeshi-American blogger Maesha Eva said in a piece published by Brown Girl Magazine. “We should have all protected her. We shouldn’t have waited until it was too late.”

CHICAGO, IL — In life, Sania Khan used her experience as a South Asian woman whose marriage was ending to inspire conversations about toxic relationships and the stigma of divorce in her community.

In death, she is doing the same.

Khan, 29, was fatally shot July 18 by her estranged husband in a murder-suicide at her Streeterville home, according to police. Her killing has generated discussion across the internet about how gender norms in South Asian culture can put women in an uncomfortable and even unsafe position.

“Bestie, stop ignoring those red flags,” said Khan, who was Muslim and of Pakistani descent, in a TikTok post in May. “They’re the same reason you leave him later.”

Khan was from Chattanooga but moved about a year ago to Chicago, where she worked as a photographer, according to her business website. She married 36-year-old Raheel Ahmad, then her partner of five years, around the same time, but sought a divorce in February due to irreconcilable differences, The Chicago Tribune reported. Ahmad had been living in Alpharetta, Georgia, at the time of his death, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office.

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“Going through a divorce as a Southasian woman feels like you failed at life sometimes,” Khan, who had nearly 20,000 TikTok followers, said last month in a post on the app.

“The way the community labels you, the lack of emotional support you receive, and the pressure to stay with someone because ‘what will people say’ is isolating. It makes it harder for women to leave marriages that they shouldn’t have been in to begin with.”

Khan’s death was followed by an outpouring of similar sentiments online.

“Sania was vocal about the tough times in her life, how her family did not support her decision to divorce, and what a huge toll it took on her,” said an Instagram post from womanistan, which has over 250,000 followers.

“Women in our society are repeatedly subjected to domestic violence and emotional abuse yet are told to bear it all, stick it out, and stay in a miserable marriage because their families just can’t handle the ‘shame’ it would bring upon them.”

Prior to her death, Khan appeared in TikTok videos preparing for a friend’s wedding, taking part in a photo shoot and out dancing.

“I had always assumed that once you walk away you have survived, but with Sania we see that this wasn’t the case,” said an Instagram post from unsweetened and unfiltered, a podcast for Muslim women. “Society is too busy demonizing the victim for seeking divorce and walking away rather than holding the abuser accountable for all that they have done.”

Khan was a graduate of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and the Chattanooga School of Arts and Science, which has established a scholarship in her honor, to be given to a female graduate planning to pursue fine arts in the University of Tennessee system, according to Local 3 News.

“Her own community traumatized her into feeling guilty about choices to move on from the abuse,” Bangladeshi-American blogger Maesha Eva said in a piece published by Brown Girl Magazine. “We should have all protected her. We shouldn’t have waited until it was too late.”
CHICAGO, IL — In life, Sania Khan used her experience as a South Asian woman whose marriage was ending to inspire conversations about toxic relationships and the stigma of divorce in her community.

In death, she is doing the same.

Khan, 29, was fatally shot July 18 by her estranged husband in a murder-suicide at her Streeterville home, according to police. Her killing has generated discussion across the internet about how gender norms in South Asian culture can put women in an uncomfortable and even unsafe position.

“Bestie, stop ignoring those red flags,” said Khan, who was Muslim and of Pakistani descent, in a TikTok post in May. “They’re the same reason you leave him later.”

Khan was from Chattanooga but moved about a year ago to Chicago, where she worked as a photographer, according to her business website. She married 36-year-old Raheel Ahmad, then her partner of five years, around the same time, but sought a divorce in February due to irreconcilable differences, The Chicago Tribune reported. Ahmad had been living in Alpharetta, Georgia, at the time of his death, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office.

Find out what’s happening in Chicagowith free, real-time updates from Patch.
Your email address
Let’s go!
“Going through a divorce as a Southasian woman feels like you failed at life sometimes,” Khan, who had nearly 20,000 TikTok followers, said last month in a post on the app.

“The way the community labels you, the lack of emotional support you receive, and the pressure to stay with someone because ‘what will people say’ is isolating. It makes it harder for women to leave marriages that they shouldn’t have been in to begin with.”

Khan’s death was followed by an outpouring of similar sentiments online.

“Sania was vocal about the tough times in her life, how her family did not support her decision to divorce, and what a huge toll it took on her,” said an Instagram post from womanistan, which has over 250,000 followers.

“Women in our society are repeatedly subjected to domestic violence and emotional abuse yet are told to bear it all, stick it out, and stay in a miserable marriage because their families just can’t handle the ‘shame’ it would bring upon them.”

Prior to her death, Khan appeared in TikTok videos preparing for a friend’s wedding, taking part in a photo shoot and out dancing.

“I had always assumed that once you walk away you have survived, but with Sania we see that this wasn’t the case,” said an Instagram post from unsweetened and unfiltered, a podcast for Muslim women. “Society is too busy demonizing the victim for seeking divorce and walking away rather than holding the abuser accountable for all that they have done.”

Khan was a graduate of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and the Chattanooga School of Arts and Science, which has established a scholarship in her honor, to be given to a female graduate planning to pursue fine arts in the University of Tennessee system, according to Local 3 News.

“Her own community traumatized her into feeling guilty about choices to move on from the abuse,” Bangladeshi-American blogger Maesha Eva said in a piece published by Brown Girl Magazine. “We should have all protected her. We shouldn’t have waited until it was too late.”