Malala Yousafzai, the youngest Nobel laureate, came back into the headlines again when Vogue UK decided to feature her in their June edition. The 23-year old completed her degree from Oxford University last year. She has survived the worst to get where she is now. Malala was shot by a terrorist in 2012 for attending school.
In her interview, she talked about how she spent the lockdown, what her favorite go-to food is, her love for comedies, her friendship with Greta Thurnberg, and how she spent her university life. She also included the fact that her headscarf has more cultural value than people would consider. To her, it’s a way to express that those considered to be oppressed can speak out and thrive.
However, what her fellow Pakistanis focused on were her questions about marriage. The young girl had opened up about her doubts on the “need to marry”. She wonders why marriage cannot be just “partnership” rather than “signing marriage papers”. She continued that her mother disagrees with her and tries to convince her about how “beautiful” marriage is.
People have been lashing out at her remarks. She’s been called “irresponsible” and a “western stooge” trying to corrupt the younger generation of Pakistan. A user on Twitter expressed his happiness over how he had never supported Malala and never will. Mathrira, a Pakistani social media influencer and model, also expressed her criticism stating that this generation should be taught that nikkah is sunnah (the way of the Prophet), it’s not just about signing a paper. Further adding, that the only types of marriages considered negatively should be forced, abusive, and/or child marriages.
The Opposition Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) lawmaker Sahibzada Sanaullah demanded the government to probe if those remarks were true, stating that life partnership was not allowed in any religion and if she favored it, then the stand was condemnable. Her family was also urged to clarify their position by the PPP and Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (an alliance of religious-political parties). As of now, her father has said that it is just the media that is running with just a single excerpt from her interview and blowing the situation out of proportion.
On 9th June, police arrested Mufti Sardar Ali Haqqani, a cleric in the Marwat district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province as reported by The Dawn. The FIR quotes him as declaring to be the first to attempt a suicide attack on Malala when she comes to Pakistan.
A few people have spoken out in her support too. Ammar Rashid (@AmmarRashidT), a Twitter user, captures the situation perfectly in his tweet stating that a young person expressing misgivings about marrying & wondering why one has to get married is the most normal part of early adulthood imaginable. If this can threaten the very foundations of our society, maybe our perfect 'family system' is more brittle than we thought.
One must wonder, what was so offensive about a young woman expressing her doubts. Is society so fragile that it can’t answer her questions? We forget that it is through questioning and deliberation that we forward.
This article has been written by Ruchi Thakur for The Paradigm
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