Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai’s views on whether marriage is necessary for two people in a relationship has invited an avalanche of criticism in Pakistan, where she has long gained a reputation as controversy’s favorite child with her outspokenness.
In an interview published in the British Vogue magazine, Malala responded to a question on the institution of marriage by wondering why a relationship could not be just a “partnership.”
“Thinking about relationships, you know, on social media, everyone’s sharing their relationship stories, and you get worried…if you can trust someone or not, and how can you be sure,” she said. “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 says in the chatty tail end of the article, which covers a range of topics, from how she coped with graduating from Oxford during a pandemic to her desire eventually to move out of home. (She still lives with her parents in Birmingham, England.)
The interviewer writes, “Her mother – like most mothers – disagrees. “My mum is like,” Yousafzai laughs, ” ‘Don’t you dare say anything like that! You have to get married, marriage is beautiful.’ “
And even though she also said in the interview that she hangs out in pubs with friends and that wearing a headscarf is cultural, the comments on marriage were the ones that brought the backlash.
The remarks immediately landed her in hot waters in Pakistan, with lawmakers, clerics, academicians as well a section of the citizenry accusing her of peddling a western narrative. Most viewed her statements as suggestive of negating the concept of having a family with a “legitimate partner.”