Malala made the internet a happy place yesterday when she announced her marriage to Asser Malik which had taken place in a small nikkah ceremony at her home where she was surrounded by her close friends and family members. Congratulations poured in from all parts of the world with famous celebrities and world leaders like Justin Trudeau and Reese Witherspoon praising the activist for starting a new life as a wife, because we all are well aware of how much trauma she had to go through in order to come to this point
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While on the desi side of twitter, Malala was met with the usual contempt and trolling because men and women felt that not only had she chosen to go back against her word that she preferred a “partnership” over a Nikah, she had gotten married at the age of 24 which some of the most educated minds on social media felt was a “betrayal” of feminism.
— قلبِ مومن (@QalabeMomin) November 10, 2021
Pls tell us when u hv the liberty to live together with Aser, then do u need to tie a knot with him now. Why are u going against yr own decision? Why getting married?#Hypocrisy @ZiauddinY pic.twitter.com/VCqor5Tt5e
— Jawad Haider (@JawadHaider) November 9, 2021
— Muhammad 🇵🇰 (@_muhammadnaveed) November 10, 2021
Quite shocked to learn Malala married a Pakistani guy. She is only 24. I thought she went to Oxford university for study, she would fall in love with a handsome progressive English man at Oxford and then think of marrying not before the age of 30. But..
— taslima nasreen (@taslimanasreen) November 9, 2021
This kind of backlash Malala is facing for choosing to marry young and reiterate her stance on having a partnership speaks volumes about the regressive mindset desis have about independent women exercising their own choices to make decisions about their life. Because we have terms solely reserved for women like “awaaragrad”, “liberal”, “badtameez” when we choose to continue our education after bachelors, to not accept the arrange marriages our families choose for us or not to get married after crossing our twenties.
Similarly coming to the trolls who think that Malala “betrayed” feminism: does being a feminist mean we stay single for the rest of our lives? Feminism is not a stick which you can use to beat other women for exercising their own choices regarding whether they choose not to marry or whether they want to get married, have babies and become housewives for the rest of their lives. Malala deciding to get married doesn’t mean she is giving up on her independence at a young age and is also telling other girls to do the same thing. She is reminding us that we must not settle for misogynists or men with regressive mindsets who tell us to abandon our homes, lifestyles and careers after marriage, but she is settling for someone who chooses to champion her independence and will not stand in the way of her and her dreams but will empower her to go after them. No one is denying the fact that the institution of marriage is flawed and needs a lot of work, but there are good men out there who choose to recognize their privilege and champion their wives after marriage, which makes Malala’s decision to marry a beautiful and empowering decision.
Whether Malala chose not to marry or marry early is not our business and it’s not something we as a society should be calling her out on. Marriage is not an anti-feminist decision and it isn’t something women should be told to stay away from, but we must celebrate women for finding men who appreciate them for their independence and do not stand in the way of their ambition or lifestyle. What shouldn’t be encouraged is the mindless hate over someone’s personal decisions we have no insight to.