Pakistani Inter-family (Cousin) marriages abroad: Ramifications & Effects


 By: Salman Junejo  Date:
Pakistani Inter-family (Cousin) marriages abroad: Ramifications & Effects
They say marriages are made in heaven, while this particular sentiment may hold true, it is not necessarily the same case for some. Inter-cousin marriages can be seen as a norm in many Pakistani and Muslim households yet this practice is often considered as taboo in many Western countries (a feat practice in these countries as well).

According to cautious estimates more than 50% of Pakistanis living in United Kingdom are in first cousin marriages. This highlights a religious as well as a societal issue, religious because it is permissible in the Holy Book of Muslims, The Quran, to be in contract of a marriage with a cousin, societal in a sense that this “act” is looked down upon. Pre-dominantly because of the health hazards, mental and physical growth risks that are associated with this kind of marriage towards their offspring.

To try to understand this phenomenon better, one should fall back upon what the scientific research and medical experts say. They are unanimously in agreement that inter-cousin marriage is the main culprit behind abnormalities in newborns and also to a greater extent, children being born stillborn or pre-mature deaths in infants.

In one way or another, we all have abnormal genes, but we are saved from any major defect and deficiency because the normal genes take precedence and overrule the abnormal genes due to variation since the husband and wife don’t have any common genealogy lineage, this increase a chance of procreating a healthier and a stronger baby tenfold.

Onthe other hand, if we talk about cousin marriages, these recessive and defective genes (from both paternal and maternal sides) which have more than double the chance of occurring because of the same and shared gene pool between both the male and female (in case of inter-cousin matrimony) which the baby draws its DNA from.

The host of diseases which a child born out of this kind of nuptials can potentially suffer from can be anything from Down syndrome, stunted and underdeveloped growth, diminished brain and cognitive abilities to neurological or physical problems with the liver, kidneys and heart etc.

At the heart of this problem can be a social factor as well, as not in all cases but some of the Pakistani households living abroad prefers to inter-marry within the family which enables them to keep the inheritance and the property within the confines of their own kinfolk.

Additionally, in a far off land, where there is not a larger Pakistani community, people prefer to marry in their own family because of the risk that comes associated with marrying one’s daughter or son with strangers; But this kind of risk doesn’t even comes close to the risk one is bearing in terms of the health of both the mother and her children aforementioned.

The need of the hour is to impart and inculcate the consequences in case one chooses to opt for cousin marriages. One should be well aware of the dangers and potential suffering and mental scarring one is getting oneself exposed to if one marry in their own family and God forbid in case they have an abnormal pregnancy or some serious complications conceiving. For this purpose, genetic education, consultations with prenatal advice from medical professionals and premarital counseling for the parents and their children are of age to marry should be a top priority.

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