in response to the post on inbreeding in pakistan, j asked: “Many peoples discovered that inbreeding causes birth defects and they imposed social rules to avoid it. How is that these Pakistanis are not aware of the danger and on the contrary, they enforce it?”
well, really, endogamy of some sort seems to be the default setting for non-hunter-gatherer groups of humans, so it shouldn’t be a surprise when we come across a group that is rather fond of inbreeding. the rates of consanguineous marriages for pakistan (and places like saudi arabia, et. al.) are really extraordinary, tho; and in some areas of pakistan endogamous marriages (cousin marriage + marriage within the patrilineage) can reach levels like 90% of all marriages.
but why aren’t pakistanis (and other groups) put off all these close marriages by the negative side-effects like congenital disorders? some of it seems to be that they’re just not informed enough on the matter (so i suppose that they never figured out the connection on their own either?) — and some of it seems to be that they’re just resigned to their fate. pakistanis have decided that the benefits (e.g. keeping the property in the family) outweighs the drawbacks, i guess.
here from a paper entitled “Cosmopolitan Knowledge and Indigenous Perceptions of Congenital Diseases Among the Cousin Marriage Practitioners in Kabirwala Community – Pakistan” (which was read at quad-e-azam university, islamabad, but i’ll be d*mned if i can find where i got this paper from! – this is the author though):
“For the Pakistani communities, it is rather a matter of destiny and luck than a medical concern.”
“Mehboob [the names have been changed to protect the innocent], a 57-year-old male lawyer is married to his cousin Rubia, 42 years old. Rubia has 5 years schooling. The couple has 9 children (2 sons and 7 daughters), one of which died within his first month. Among the 9 children, two are blind and one has hearing problems…. However, the couple call it taqdeer (destiny) and argue that two children are blind due to their own sins and that one has died because ‘us kay din poray ho gaye that’ (He has completed his life period). It is believed that God has given a specific life to every person at the birth of a child. According to local belief, the child has to spend only the prescribed life which God has given. When I mentioned a genetic problem as a possible interpretation during the interview, the parents said that it was ‘God’s will’, that this was the reason for their son’s death. According to the couple, Islam does not forbid cousin marriage. Therefore, there is no need to argue the issue on the basis of genetics. It is a matter of luck and destiny. Genetics have a minor role to play.”
c’est la vie, eh?
(note: comments do not require an email. why, thank you! i’d love another peanut.)