That’s a brave woman who’s in serious danger of being subjected to an honor murder.
‘Many people I know would say that not marrying a cousin is against our religion. There is a powerful pressure to do so, or risk bringing shame on the family. But it’s a misconception – it isn’t mentioned in the Koran.
‘The community struggles to accept cousin marriages are resulting in difficulties because they think it [marrying outside the family] goes against their faith. I’ve been accused of being Islamophobic or creating problems in the community by raising the issue.’
A study carried out among Pakistani families in Luton in 2015 found that Aisha’s father is not alone in his views. The infant mortality rate is a staggering 63 per cent higher in the town than the national average, and is at its highest in the Pakistani community.
Islamic scholars refute those who question marrying between cousins. From an Islamic guidance website: “As a legal ruling however, marrying one’s cousin is completely lawful in Islam, based on the Qur’an, Noble Sunna, and scholarly consensus (ijma`). The categories of women one is forbidden to marry are clearly delineated in the Qur’an (see 4:22-24), and one’s cousin is not listed there.”
‘I refused to marry my cousin after the death of my baby brother and twin due to inbreeding’: The brave British-Pakistani woman who is tackling an ethnic taboo that costs the NHS millions
The day her four-year-old brother died is firmly rooted in Aisha Khan’s memory. Aisha (left) was only eight when she woke up to find her home in West Yorkshire filled with people; a kindly uncle scooping her out of bed with her three older siblings while her distraught parents mourned. For months she expected Sarfraz (right), her tiny brother, to return but she never saw him again.
For Aisha, now 36, the loss was just one of many disasters to befall her family. Her twin brother Ahmed died aged just two-and- a-half. Her elder sister Tahira has serious learning difficulties, and another brother, Kasim, born just two years after Sarfraz’s death, had problems so severe that he required 24-hour care and did not live to see his 18th birthday.
Aisha’s Pakistani-born parents (pictured inset together with a young Aisha), Mohammed and Barkat, are first cousins. There is fresh and growing evidence that marriage between relatives within the Pakistani community may be to blame – in part at least – for a dramatic rise in the number of children with genetic disorders being treated in British hospitals.
More Islamic backing of marrying 1st cousins…