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All in the Family

April 06, 2005: More than half the marriages in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan are between first and second cousins. I, sadly, have cousins who are married to their cousins, and know relatives who have beaten their wives.

July 31, 2005: Muslim women who refuse the orders of their elders (to marry a cousin or wear an abaya for example) bring shame upon their entire family. Most of the time threats or beatings are enough to force the women into submission.

August 17, 2005: Marriages to first and second cousins are more common than non-cousin marriages in Pakistan. I have relatives there who've married their cousins. It brings a whole new meaning to the phrase "all in the family."

And now on November 17, 2005, Charles linked to this:

It is estimated that more than 55 per cent of British Pakistanis are married to first cousins, resulting in an increasing rate of genetic defects and high rates of infant mortality. The likelihood of unrelated couples having the same variant genes that cause recessive disorders are estimated to be 100-1. Between first cousins, the odds increase to as much as one in eight.

In Bradford, more than three quarters of all Pakistani marriages are believed to be between first cousins.

Can't say I'm shocked. This "tradition" of inbreeding is very insidious. Many Muslim men marry off their daughters to their brother's son, so that their grandsons and grandnephews are one and the same. In addition to the birth defects, this has a negative effect on individuality and the independence of women.

Extended families are told to stick together and care for each other. This logic quickly morphs into caring solely for their family members since these Muslims don't have any incentive to mingle with anyone outside their clan or families. Most Muslims in such situations think of their surroundings as a group vs. group conflict and thus support only their side. This crushes individuality since in these societies any publicly bad (read: unIslamic) behavior of a person is taken as bringing shame and ridicule upon that person's family. It's then incumbent upon the respective family members to discipline the said person. The punishments are often brutal.

The women in such families have no freedom for going in public alone. The logic: why would they want to unless they were a prostitute or dating someone from another family? Since the marriage of women is set, almost without exception, by the elders, the women have thus no reason to meet a non-sibling male. Boys, of course, can party all night, go to the cinema, play sports and do pretty much whatever their hearts desire. But girls are kept indoors and get a second-class education if they're lucky. Families have often killed women who break these rules. The police can be bribed to look away from such honor killings. The punishment for an honor killing in Jordan can be as little as six months in jail.

When the "lucky" Muslim women do marry, their husband's home becomes their new gulag. The duty of these women is to give birth to many kids and raise their daughters as honorable women -- just like themselves.


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