Source: Daily Mail, UK
- The World Health Organisation insists that attempts to stop consanguineous marriage are ‘undesirable and inappropriate’
- The stance of local councils in Britain, including multi-cultural Oldham in Lancashire, tallies with this view
- In the former cotton mill town, 20 babies born each year have a consanguinity-related disorder, of whom 11 live with chronic disability
- Yet the Health and Wellbeing Board overseen by Oldham council recently said cousin marriage is an ‘integral part of cultural and social life’
Her life stretches ahead of her, yet at the age of just 18 she is already discussing with her family whether she should have an arranged marriage, and whether her future husband should be a cousin.
For Hiba comes from the city’s British-Pakistani community, in which around 60 per cent of mothers are married to their cousins according, to a major academic study.
Hiba Maroof (centre) with her parents, Maroof and Nuzhat, at home in Bradford
Her uncle, Younis, hopes that Hiba does so and follows his family tradition.
Indeed, four of his own five children have wed close relatives. However, Hiba’s father is unsure. And her mother is very much against her daughter marrying such a close relative because her own first marriage — to a cousin — ended in divorce.
Hiba, single and a student at the University of Leeds, faces a common dilemma. Her story came to public attention because she featured in a BBC documentary called Should I Marry My Cousin?, which looked at the custom of cousin marriage.
Relationships described as ‘consanguineous’ are those between couples who are at least second cousins or more closely related. The practice has been legal in Britain for more than 400 years, but is considered one of society’s last taboos.
In British Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities, marriage between cousins is designed to strengthen the family and keep wealth intact.
But there are massive health risks involved for the children of such couples. And when they are tragically born with disabilities, it is taxpayers who are left to pick up the huge costs of their NHS treatment, which can run into millions over a lifetime.
— The Muslim Times (@The_MuslimTimes) November 12, 2015
— The Muslim Times (@The_MuslimTimes) October 1, 2017