Ammarah Fayyaz, Director Human Resource, MSF Pakistan, writes about how common consanguineous marriages are, and is a little concerned...
The consanguineous marriage has it well developed historical background and is especially prevalent in Asia and Middle East. There have been special reason for it in the past but now they seem to be less important i.e. the perseverance of wealth, the low education status of the mother, traditions, vows of the elderly, family structure and fear of losing the money on wedding the daughter. In present times, the only thing that has come to light after studying the different population groups of Asia is that People don’t want to marry out of the caste as it, according to them will cause them lose their social status. Sometimes people also fear the external people about their habits and good reputation thus they marry their girls in the family always.
The very close marriages i.e. parents with children and brother with sister are not allowed in any religion, consanguineous marriages have been prohibited in some cultures and allowed in some but In Islam, there is obviously no such restriction because The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) also married his cousin, Zainab Bint-e-Jahash.
Sometimes the Pakistanis settled in other countries like England and America are more prone to the consanguineous marriages because of the immigration policies of these countries. Some presume that local Muslim community there is so small and the people have no way out except for marrying the same generation women.So the leaders in Asia must address this. The health education can be of immense help. Most important time of learning about these issues is while adolescence, so the school programs and event must be organized. Teachers must tell the students importance of preventing consanguineous marriages. Parents must avoid the close association of their children with sister, brother or cousins during the adolescence.And if ever people have to marry their cousins, they must have pre-marriage genetic counseling or counseling when the marriage has been consummated.
Racist jokes ignored, does anyone see a health problem in these communities? Siblings and cousins experiment. Some go on to do more, some to be together as life partners. People need to get over it and worry about their own lives.