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How we as the South-Asian Community must do better...

I came across this article a few days ago and what I read truly left me with a loss of words. Sania Khan, 29, found dead in her Chicago apartment. The initial sentence itself doesn't appear as controversial. Chicago? Another murder...? Now we all know that Chicago at one point was one of the least safest USA cities, so the headliner itself would not be a shock. But as you keep reading the article it begins to draw on another theme. One that may not be familiar to those that are outside of the South-Asian (Desi) community.

The young photographer recently divorced, moved to a new state to draw comfort, probably intending to leave her previous life behind. Looking to find whatever her late 20's could guide her too. We all want it, the feeling of being happy once again. However, what she was met with was tragedy as her ex-husband killed her and committed suicide. Now this is not going to be one of those articles that draws on a victim and a perpetrator, rather I hope to draw on a complicated and unaddressed cultural practice that perpetuate cycles of violence.

Now... as a young-South Asian woman whenever I hear or read the name Khan it pulls my heart strings, probably because its my last name, but also because it reminds me that this could be me, my mom, a friend, an aunt, or someone quite near to me in my community. It also brings me to a place of enragement with the toxic four words: What will people think. Even just typing this brings me to a place of utter fury. Why? Why do we draw from a place of pure shame? Why do we try too hard to control others, to mold a fake happiness for others to envy. I'm not sure but what I do know is that it hurts and in this scenario, kills.

The toxic-four word statement when broken down draws on solely one thing: external pressure. A pressure to meet the demands of others. A demand that has no reachable standard because the individual person didn't set the standard. It holds a silent cage in whether you can be accepted by others.

Sania even said it herself: ""Going through a divorce as a South Asian Woman feels like you failed at life sometimes," she wrote. "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 marriage that they shouldn't have been in to begin with."

This in my opinion led to the devastating event, the pressure to maintain an image that was no longer attainable. Now, Sania was ready, she was in a place of growth and moving towards her next steps. She was even using social media as an outlet to highlight the practices within our community that push women into very vulnerable places, but Raheel?

Raheel's pressure is not quite talked about in the desi-community. We don't ever highlight the effects of external pressures on the mental state of men. We don't ever talk about how we place men on emotion-less pedestals that instate control. The control to meet: What will people think. Which in reality is unreachable.

In a perfect scenario: both persons would have gained the support from their families, friends, and community to make the decision as adults to obtain a divorce. While, also going through therapy to gain spiritual and psychological insights on how to go on with life as an empowered being. This process would highlight that they're not bad people, but rather two people that are growing apart, which is a natural process in life. Some couples make it and some don't. But the horrific reality of forcing a relationship isn't something sustainable in the long-run.

Fear-based relationships die out, we forget the importance of loving ourselves and the journey of self when we are so hyper-focused on other people who have their own lens on life. That's why as a community we need to do better to have conversations that highlight the strength in each individual journey. Whether that is looking at Sania and identifying the courage to walk away or validating the fear that Raheel had. We need to open our arms to support and push shame-based thinking to the side. With this in sight, I hope that we can begin that journey to rebuild our narrative as a Desi-community to better support our Sania's & Raheel's.

1 Comment

Jul 23, 2022

very true . i think the new generation of educated south asian girls are going to bring about the positive change for others to follow

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