A young woman is dead after gaining popularity on TikTok by opening her heart about her difficult divorce from a “toxic” man. It turns out that man who she “shouldn’t have been” married to in the first place was so awful, he not only couldn’t let her leave, he couldn’t let her live.
When we talk about destigmatizing divorce, making it easier to achieve and more culturally acceptable — not harder — this is the kind of case we’re talking about. Sadly, it’s too late for Sania Khan. But her message should live on.
The Pakistani American photographer was striking a nerve lately with her posts on divorce. She had been married less than a year to a man named Raheel Ahmad when she realized, as she put it, she was with “just another toxic South Asian man.” She wrote in one emotional video:
“Going through a divorce as a South Asian woman feels like you failed at life sometimes. The way the community labels you, the lack of support you receive, and the pressure to stay with someone because ‘what will people say’ makes it harder for women to leave marriages that they shouldn’t have been in to begin with.”
She revealed the dark truth that some of her family members had even threatened self harm if she went through with moving away from Ahmad. She planned to room with a friend in her hometown of Chattanooga, Tennessee — but her family pressured her as hard as they could to stay in town and work things out with her ex:
“My family members told me if I left my husband I would let Shaytan win, that I dress like a prostitute and if I move back to my hometown they’ll kill themselves.”
In perhaps her most meaningful, universal statement she wrote:
“You are not a failure because your marriage did not work out.”
In opening up about her pain, partially due to her family, she was reaching a community that needed to hear that truth.
Unfortunately, the red flags she didn’t heed about her husband turned out to be more dire a warning than she realized. According to a shocking story out of the Chicago Sun-Times, Raheel followed his ex to Chicago and murdered her — before turning the gun on himself.
Per the outlet, it was Raheel’s family who reported him missing after they couldn’t find him in his home in Alpharetta, Georgia — and that eventually led authorities to the door of his ex, who had moved into an apartment in Chicago. Police doing a simple welfare check last Monday reported knocking, then immediately hearing a gunshot and a groan. Busting in the door, they found Sania already dead and Raheel dying. Both had gunshot wounds to the head.
He traveled 700 miles, armed with a gun, because he couldn’t let her leave him.
Gabriella Bordó, the friend with whom she had just signed a lease, was devastated — but they both saw the warning signs from Raheel. Sania had considered getting a restraining order, according to her BFF, but never went through with it. Gabriella told Time Magazine despite his scariness Sania was “encouraged to stay, pleaded with to stay, by her family and ex-husband’s family” — but would not go back to him. Describing the nature of their marriage, she explained:
“I didn’t see someone as spirited as her being so manipulated or controlled by someone but she was. He monitored what she wore. He was wary about who she hung out with, how she presented herself.”
As her followers knew, she was moving on, making a new life for herself. She was doing the right thing for her own health and happiness. Gabriella said:
“She was leaving. They hadn’t lived together for a long time. She had a home here with me. I was there to bring her home.”
As for whether she would have considered going back to Raheel, she says no way — and he knew it:
“There was no reconciling. This man did not go there to salvage a marriage. He went there with a gun for a reason. He knew I was coming. My social media and hers is completely public. It was his last opportunity and he took it.”
In fact, Gabriella had just landed in Chicago on Monday to help her friend move. So it seems she’s right about the timeline — he must have seen her post about moving and went to end things before he wouldn’t be able to find her. Truly disgusting.
Sania had double-majored in psychology and women’s studies, then spent time as a social worker and a flight attendant while studying to follow her true passion: photography. She was just 29 years old.
This woman deserved to pursue her dreams, she deserved to live her own life. She was not the property of any man, no matter how hard he or anyone else believed it. Our hearts are broken to know the life she was pushing for was taken from her so brutally. We just hope others who see her TikToks and follow her story are encouraged to demand more from their lives — and are even more wary of men they know are toxic.
[Image via Sania Khan/TikTok.]