While you might think that what Amir Liaqat Hussain is doing for decades is just to garner some publicity, there is another fact at the foot of it all. He is a celebrity with a huge following in a country where this act of him, a 50 year old man marrying an 18 year old barely legal girl, is considered an act of religion.
Anyone who is asking for us to move on is clearly not aware of Noor Mukaddam’s case that is currently on trial…… a case that has accumulated a lot of notoriety due to the gruesome nature of how Noor was murdered. Women who refuse to be a man’s fodder are killed mercilessly in the land of the pure. Women who agree to a man’s barbarism make our child brides.
It is ironic still that many people are calling this a matter of “agency”. They’re calling this a personal thing between the two spouses, where the husband is the bride’s senior by 32 years. Can I say that coercive marriages aren’t marriages, legally or socially? Or even religiously?
Looking back at this man, he has gotten away with a lot. From pitting religious sects against one another to declaring certain sects blasphemous to openly cursing in the foulest gendered language, his résumé needs no introduction. Some might call him unstable. To me, he is just the regular Pakistani male prototype, many of whom I have met and many that I considered for marriage too.
We cannot have fair judgment for the women who make his wives. In a patriarchy, women are always at a disadvantage and are frequently known by social slurs like “the other woman”, “gold digger”, shameless”, “home-wrecker”, “husband stealer”. Men, interestingly, haven’t had many titles attributed to them.
Why did this 18 year old marry him? The answer and reason are both steeped in the very reason that women get married for at all. This is a social structure that patriarchy built. Marriage is a woman’s sustenance. Marriage actually works according to the rule of the jungle. Dog eats dog, every man for himself. A woman, when presented with marriage, isn’t allowed by the patriarchy to consider its pluses or minuses. She’s conditioned to believe that this is her salvation.
So another woman claimed her salvation until the other shoe falls. Another woman drank the koolaid that a man sold under the pretense of a life fulfilled. Another woman warmed a man’s bed temporarily as outlined by her society and her religion. A patriarchy is better than just one thing after all…… a religious patriarchy.
The modern day Hannibal Lecters of patriarchy won’t stop at this. 18 is young but still older than 17 or 16 or 10. Nothing is too young, too delicate, too forbidden. Under a patriarchy, everything is fair game for a man.
Women must raise their voice against this. You and I can go back to our monogamous safe marriages and thank Allah for giving us the man that we always dreamed of. The man who meets the bare minimum in a crowd of men who don’t even meet that much is, after all, a thing to be thankful for. You and I can rest assured in the sanctity of our marriages.
But we forget that this is the side of every man that we fear. The wandering eye, the lecherous glare, the constant search for someone younger. This is why we must dissent. Dissent isn’t sedition. Dissent is to take apart social structures and see why a man in Pakistan is allowed the liberty to openly cavort with underage girls while Qandeel Baloch was murdered for having a YouTube channel, Noor Mukaddam was beheaded for asking for her agency and choice. Dissent is to ask why you and I are exhausted of being a woman.