Pakistani-American photographer Sania Khan shot dead by ex-husband in Chicago

Sania Khan
Born: 1993
shot dead: 18 July 2022
Residence: Chicago, Illinois, United States
Origin: Pakistan
Children: none
Perpetrator: ex-husband Raheel Ahmed (36 years old at the time of the crime)
Pakistani-American Sania Khan, originally from the mountain town of Chattanooga, Tennessee, settled in Chicago, in the state of Illinois, in June 2021. In Chicago, she began living with her husband, Raheel Ahmed.

Sania is a professional photographer who specializes in taking upbeat photos at wedding ceremonies and of brides and couples.

In the winter of 2021/2022, Sania and Raheel decided to separate. Their formal separation was finalized in May. Raheel went to live with his family in a suburb of Atlanta.

Sania's plan was to move back to her hometown of Chattanooga. On Monday, July 18, 2022, Raheel was reported missing by his family, and police sent officers to Sania's residence to check if he was there.

Upon arrival, police personnel heard a gunshot, followed by sounds of a man groaning in pain. When officers entered the residence, Sania was found dead and her ex-husband was found in the bedroom with a single gunshot wound to the head. A suicide bill was also reportedly found. Raheel was then transferred to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead upon arrival.

For the motive behind this murder and suicide, media refer to Sania's TikTok account, where she speaks candidly about the problems South Asian women face after a divorce.

Sania had said the following, “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 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 [a] marriage that they shouldn’t have been in, to begin with. It’s painful to walk away from someone you once loved. But it’s even more painful to love someone who is careless with your heart.”

What is an honour killing?

An honour killing is a murder in the name of honour. If a brother murders his sister to restore family honour, it is an honour killing. According to activists, the most common reasons for honour killings are as the victim:

Questions about honour killings

  • refuses to cooperate in an arranged marriage.

  • wants to end the relationship.

  • was the victim of rape or sexual assault.

  • was accused of having a sexual relationship outside of marriage.

Human rights activists believe that 100,000 honour killings are carried out every year, most of which are not reported to the authorities and some are even deliberately covered up by the authorities themselves, for example because the perpetrators are good friends with local policemen, officials or politicians. Violence against girls and women remains a serious problem in Pakistan, India, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Iran, Serbia and Turkey.

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