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Why do Pakistanis marry their cousins?

by Hari M

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Why do Pakistanis marry their cousins?

Incest is almost a common practice in many of the societies in various countries. Muslims argue that marrying first cousins is just not the practice in their society but also seen in Christian and Hindu communities. When we compare incest with marrying the first cousin, cousin marriage tends to be somewhat better than the former. If the first cousin is a sister or brother, they get married in Muslim community and they consider it as a religious act. Not only Pakistanis, even Hindus used to follow this practice. Cousin marriages are avoided these days as per the scientific explanation as they may result in health problems. Many Muslims, Hindus and other people believe in marrying first cousin. First cousin is the child of aunt or uncle. Some people consider marrying a cousin is like marrying a sibling or parent and it is an awkward feeling while it is respected by most people.
In earlier days, royal families used to marry among themselves within their own families. This was followed in order to maintain the relationships within their families and not allow others to enjoy their property. They also wanted all the relationships to exist within their families and not spread into other population. But, a disease called hemophilia was more prevalent in those royal families as this genetic disorder was circulating among their group only.
Pakistani Muslims probably feel that the cousins are from the same family and it would be easy for both of them to get adjusted. As cousins can be more comfortable with each other and they know each other from childhood, the idea of cousin marriage was encouraged. This idea is not only followed by Muslims but also by other communities too. Muslims argue that this idea of cousin marriage was suggested by God and hence it is followed as their cultural practice. Marrying cousins is not a big issue, while many westerners marry their mothers, grandmothers, sisters, daughters, granddaughters and so on which appears to be weird. Though cousin marriages are not supported by science as they might cause serious disorders in their children, people still follow this as one of the cultural acts.

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