Makeup artist, model, and wife of Amir Khan, Faryal Makhdoom, recently made a courageous choice to openly address the domestic abuse she has been a victim of for years from her in-laws. She made it clear that her in-laws have bullied her repeatedly, especially while she was heavily pregnant. When she decided to post numerous Snapchats on her public story, the media swarmed in on their new female victim. There have been a lot of differing opinions on this matter, but one that reins supreme is that Faryal is this “evil” and “conniving” woman who is “brainwashing” her husband to take her side. (Shoutout to Amir Khan, who willingly remains loyal to his wife and her protection)
A majority of the media outlets that decided to cover this story have headlines using similar language. “Amir Khan’s wife SLAMS in-laws and ACCUSES them of abuse” or “Amir Khan’s wife BASHES family and CLAIMS she was bullied” are just a few examples of how people are talking about this situation. By just looking at these top featured titles, anyone could conclude that whoever this girl is, she must be a villainous woman who is out for fame and attention.
First off, she has a name. Her name is Faryal, in case you missed it. There’s no need to solely address her as “Amir Khan’s wife.” She’s a talented makeup artist, model, and mother. Secondly, she is a person, who is publicly speaking about domestic abuse. Addressing the issue with oneself is hard enough as it is, and people really have the audacity to immediately think she’s evil and a liar for this? I’ve especially seen many Muslims from the South Asian community say ridiculous statements about her. What ever happened to making a thousand excuses for your fellow Muslims, refraining from calling them cruel names, and not assuming the worst of them? Even if she was lying about this whole ordeal, there is no way we can collectively deny that in-law abuse within the South Asian community does not exist as a very common issue.
Blame and pressure are always thrown on to the wife in the situation. Before she even gets engaged, there’s an intense amount stress put on young girls. They must be young, fair, thin, be able to cook all of his favorite khana (food). Sure, there are pressures put on the guy too, like having a ‘good career’…and that’s about it. Not to undermine that whole issue, but the discrepancies here are loud and clear. I can’t count how many times older desi women have ‘warned’ me about becoming a wife and having to deal with whoever my future husband’s in-laws are. I’ve been told the same thing repeatedly. “Women always have to bear the burden of bad in-laws. It’s just the way it is.” That’s what we’ve taught our daughters. That’s the type of mentality our daughters internalize. To say it destroys their sense of well-being and sanity is an understatement. When I say ‘bad in-laws’ I’m not talking about your husband’s mother who supports Donald Trump. I’m talking about the vicious cycle of how the husband’s immediate family inherently dismantles any sense of self-worth the wife has. From backbiting and stupid petty comments like, “Why are you wearing your hair like that? It looks ugly.” To them actively believing that the wife has had this whole master plan of brainwashing and holding her husband captive away from his family. In many cases, such as Faryal’s, the abuse escalates from verbal, to physical and a violent mixture of both.
Women always have to bear the burden of bad in-laws. It’s just the way it is.
I blame culture, I blame history, I blame media. I blame all three of those entities combined. The history of the culture of the way women have repeatedly been portrayed in various forms of media plays a huge factor in why wives are perceived and treated in such demeaning ways. From Pakistani dramas, to mainstream Hollywood movies and television programs, women are painted as these ultra-emotional and innately evil specimens who always somehow have ulterior motives. This is a system of oppression that only grows stronger as people implement these false ideologies into real life.
So, maybe we can’t directly control or change the way media outlets and the entertainment industry choose to typecast certain groups of people, like women. What we can do is see the problems that lie within ourselves and our community. Reflect on your thoughts and actions towards women. Actively be aware of how others within your family and community treat and talk about women, especially their sister/daughter-in-law(s). We need to seriously destroy the mentality that we always know everything about everything. Nothing is perfectly fine. We need to address our inconsistencies and issues that run deep within our culture. This is the only way we can be free.
Reflect on your thoughts and actions towards women.