December 7, 2022

  • Sania Khan’s death was widely discussed on social media and in the national media.
  • But domestic violence is not new to South Asian women. It is seldom reported much.
  • Domestic violence experts told Insider that Khan’s death spread like wildfire because she was related.

News of Sania Khan’s death spread like wildfire in the days after police discovered her dead body in her Chicago apartment.

On social media, South Asian women have never known Khan praised Her – a 29-year-old photographer from Tennessee who was last month Killed by her ex-husband. Pakistani celebrities Disclosed. Domestic violence organizations that specifically address the needs of South Asian communities have issued statements of regret.

Khan’s story struck for many within the South Asian community because domestic violence can be a daily occurrence, according to experts.

For example, in the United States One in four women They will be exposed to gender-based violence. said Kavita Mehra, executive director of the Sakhi Foundation for South Asian Women, a New York-based nonprofit that provides services and resources to women affected by violence.

“What we do know is that our society has higher rates of violence, and that women in our community have higher rates of violence than the national average,” Mehra told Insider.

The stigma of domestic violence in South Asian societies

But domestic violence is so stigmatized within society that women in South Asia rarely have it Talk about it or report it. Many don’t realize that they might experience it in the first place.

The term “domestic violence” is often difficult to understand for South Asian women in the Boston area, for example, according to Divya Chaturvedi and Renu Tiwari, co-CEOs of Saheli Boston.

“A lot of times we have to ask questions like, ‘Did he slap you? Is your disk? Did he put his hands on your neck? Center. “So they don’t even know what the abuse is because it’s so normal for them.”

Experts told Insider that it’s hard to understand when domestic violence appears less tangible. Tewar and Chaturvedi said that verbal abuse, for example, is still domestic violence, but it may not leave visible marks or changes on the body.

But they said South Asian societies greatly value the nuclear family and binary gender roles, so there is a lot of shame associated with speaking out against and talking about any kind of violence within the home or in an intimate relationship, the experts said.

Sometimes, for example, women call the helpline to tell Tewarie and Chaturvedi about the abuse they encounter at home. But when Tewarie and Chaturvedi began talking to them about their options and resources, the women rejected the suggestions because they were worried they would be seen as outcasts in their community.

“Shame can act as a social constraint on the next survivor, because there is a profound amount of shame on the survivor, shame on the family, shame on the community, and the inability to have a safe space,” Mehra told Insider.

Another social shackle can be a duty towards family and family matters.

The belief that a woman has a duty to her family, Mehra said, “often forces survivors to live in a place of fear, harm and trauma, when these are merely social indicators that prevent the survivor from progressing.”

That’s partly why Khan’s case has struck a chord in the South Asian community, women who run domestic violence shelters told Insider.

Khan, a Pakistani American woman, has posted intimate details of her divorce from Ahmed on social media platforms such as TikTok and Instagram, where she had Over 22000 followers.

“Divorce as a South Asian woman feels like you’ve failed in life sometimes,” she wrote in one of the videos. “The way society labels you, the lack of emotional support you receive, the pressure to stay with someone because ‘what people will say’ leads to isolation. It makes it hard for women to leave marriages they shouldn’t have entered into. Let’s start with. “

For her fans, Khan was deemed relevant, experts say

She gathered followers through her honest portrayal of her experience as a South Asian woman dealing with divorce and other stigmatized issues.

“People were attracted to her messages because she was very weak and brave,” Mehra said.

It was also her reputation that helped push her message and public image to the top. Speaking to Insider, friends described her as a warm person with contagious positive energy. She has constantly stood up for her friends and encouraged them to pursue whatever they want. She has made people believe in themselves, and has taken steps to make her own life as exciting as it can be.

“It’s very interconnected in the sense that many women go through some of these questions, lack of support, question the relationship, or are unhappy,” Chaturvedi said. “She became the voice of these women in documenting her suffering, what she was going through.”

“It’s hard to see this person with so much potential, isn’t it?” Chaturvedi has been added. “This young woman with so much potential and her level of sympathy and what she was doing, to get rid of this senseless violence, it leaves a hole in your heart.”

It is not just her fans or friends who are mesmerized by her presence. When she died, media organizations across the country committed to telling her story.

But, according to South Asian women who run domestic violence centers across the country, Khan’s case is not out of the ordinary — despite the media attention and backlash it has received.

Domestic violence is pervasive among the South Asian community, and Khan just so happens to have stumbled into the spotlight because she is connected to and cleverly makes use of social media. But many women have suffered the same fate without generating the same media or public interest.

In 2020, for example, chef and restaurateur Garima Kothari was murdered by her boyfriend in Jersey City. Her boyfriend then killed himself. Unlike Khan, Kothari did not gain national media attention when she died.

And a few days after Khan’s death, so was YouTuber Dana Al-Otaibi Murdered by her ex-husband On the side of a road in Hawaii. Then her ex-husband, a Marine, attempted suicide.

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