Malala Yousafzai says she was never against marriage but had some concerns

There is imbalance of power in marriages where ‘women make more compromises than men’, she says

Namita Singh
Monday 15 November 2021 10:24
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‘I had concerns about marriage,’ says Malala Yousafzai

Malala Yousafzai has said that she was never against marriage but had some concerns, including those about an “imbalance of power.”

But she was “lucky” to have found a person who understood her values, the Nobel laureate said.

The 24-year-old human rights activist and educationist married Asser Malik, a manager with Pakistan’s cricket governing body, at a small ceremony in Birmingham last week.

Ms Yousafzai’s critics used the occasion to call her a hypocrite because of her comment to British Vogue in July 2021. “I still don’t understand why people have to get married. If you want to have a person in your life, why do you have to sign marriage papers, why can’t it just be a partnership?” she had said at that time.

The backlash forced Ms Yousafzai to explain her previous remarks.

“I was not against marriage, I had concerns about marriage and that is true for many girls around the world who have seen reports about child marriage and reports about forced marriage,” the activist said on BBC One’s The Andrew Marr Show on Sunday.

Adding that there was an imbalance of power in marriages where “women make more compromises than men”, she called for questioning the systems. “A lot of these customs are influenced by patriarchy and misogyny. So you have to question the systems that we are living in and we have to question the status quo but I am lucky that I found a person who understands my values,” she said.

“He understands my sense of humour and we have a lot in common,” she added.

She also wrote an essay for Vogue last week explaining her previous remarks.

“I wasn’t against marriage, but I was cautious about its practice,” she wrote in the article published on 11 November. “I questioned the patriarchal roots of the institution, the compromises women are expected to make after the wedding, and how laws regarding relationships are influenced by cultural norms and misogyny in many corners of the world. I feared losing my humanity, my independence, my womanhood – my solution was to avoid getting married at all.”

“My conversations with my friends, mentors and my now partner Asser helped me consider how I could have a relationship – a marriage – and remain true to my values of equality, fairness and integrity,” she wrote.

Ms Yousafzai’s husband is a high-performance general manager at Pakistan’s cricket governing body, the Pakistan Cricket Board, according to his LinkedIn profile.

He joined the board in May 2020 and worked with the Pakistan Super League (PSL) franchise Multan Sultans previously as an operational manager. While it is not clear how long the couple have known each other, but his Instagram profile includes a group photograph with Ms Yousafzai from 2019.

Ms Yousafzai was 14 when she was shot by the Taliban on her way back home from school in Pakistan’s SWAT Valley in 2012.

She traveled to Birmingham for treatment, where she was later joined by her family. She has continued to be a champion of human rights and girls’ education.

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