LONDON: Last week, Faryal Makhdoom, the wife of British-Pakistani boxer Amir Khan, alleged that she has long suffered harassment at the hands of her in-laws. In a story on social media platform Snapchat, Faryal claimed that her in-laws attempted to hit her and also tried to engineer a divorce when she was nine months pregnant with the couple’s first child. She claimed that her husband was also a victim of their bullying tactics. While Amir’s siblings took to social media to respond to her allegations, his parents broke their silence in a TV interview. In the interview, Amir’s father Sajjad Khan denied that any one beat Faryal. “I have two daughters and have treated Faryal the same as them,” he professed. He shared that the family’s conflict with Faryal is over her choice of clothes. “We’ve been asking Aamir to tell Faryal not to dress [in immodest clothes], and even if she’s wearing them, she shouldn’t put her photographs up on social media.” “We tell our daughter not to dress like that and we’ve told her the same,” he stressed. Aamir’s mother also insisted that their conflict is over Faryal’s clothing alone.
“I said to her once, ‘Faryal bacha, don’t wear such clothes, be sure to wear a dupatta.’ But she didn’t listen and I never brought it up again. It was actually Amir’s obligation to tell her, and when I spoke to him, he told me to speak to her mother because she doesn’t listen to him either.” She continued, “It’s been two, two-and-a-half years and there’s no talk about her clothes or her involvement in the household work or anything like that.” She added that Faryal never wanted to ‘mix’ with her husband’s family: “We sit together in the evening and one can’t tell if we have two daughters or three, because Faryal never liked to mix with us. I would have liked her to sit with us, go out with us, but she’s always called us ‘paindu’ (unsophisticated). Are paindu people not Muslims, not humans? Paindu ka beta Amir Khan hai na [Amir Khan is the son of paindus, is he not?] We’ve raised him to become who he is and have now handed him over to Faryal. I hope they have a long and happy marriage but I stress to all daughters-in-law to never break a mother’s heart. Parents have rights too, you should love them.”
She implied that the Faryal’s abuse allegations were a lie: “If we are being dishonoured on this channel today, one day Faryal will claim that Amir has beaten her. Because we haven’t done anything to her, my daughters haven’t done anything to her. I urge all daughters-in-law and daughters to not be disobedient or a sinner.” While Amir’s parents have categorically denied Faryal’s allegations of abuse, they have failed to comment on the public criticism of her on social media by their children, Haroon Khan and Mariya Khan. They can also be criticised for focusing on her clothes and whether they can reasonably expect a woman to tailor her wardrobe according to their conception of modesty. Faryal has also attracted censure by people who believe she should have handled her situation like a ‘private family matter’.