Nobel Peace Prize awardee Malala Yousafzai tied the knot with Asser Malik on 9 November in Birmingham, England. As soon as she made the announcement, people responded with their best wishes for her. Some users, on the other hand, took to Twitter to challenge this decision.
Citing an interview that Malala gave to Vogue Managazine in July this year, users pointed out how she said she would never get married. "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.
Now that she got married, some users online started questioning her decision.
As a response to these claims and to talk about her marriage in general, Malala penned an essay for Vogue on 11 November titled "I Found A Best Friend And Companion": Malala’s Wedding In Her Own Words.
Starting with her own quote about not getting married, she first explained how that statement was "reactionary" and said "half-consciously" given.
"I wasn’t against marriage, but I was cautious about its practice. 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," she writes.
She explained that for her, marriage meant losing her independence, her womanhood, and her humatiy. She details that her having grown up in Pakistan had a lot to do with this view she had. Girls there were taught that marriage was a substitute for an independent life and were made to see it as "servitude".
She even detailed the life of young girls in Pakistan and the issue related to child marriage. "Some girls dropped out of education because their families could not afford to send them to school; some started school but didn’t do well enough to meet their families’ expectations. Their parents decided their education was not worth the cost. For these girls, marriage means their lives are deemed a failure," she said.
On what helped her change her mind, she said that conversations with her friends, mentors, and even Asser helped her understand how the institution of marriage could exist while still not embodying a patriarchal and oppressive form. She saw marriage from a whole new perspective.
Meeting Asser in 2018, she said that they formed an instant connection. "We became best friends. We found we had common values and enjoyed each other’s company. We stood by each other in moments of happiness and disappointment. Through our individual ups and downs, we talked and listened to each other."
While people online might criticise or even question Malala's decision, a large portion of users online have only showered her with love and support. Many have reiterated that in the end, marriage is a personal decision she should be able to make her own.
"I still don’t have all the answers for the challenges facing women – but I believe that I can enjoy friendship, love and equality in marriage," said Malala before detailing the events of her marriage and signing off.
(With inputs from Vogue).