Aisha Khan, 36, whose parents are cousins, has lost siblings to genetic problems. Her younger brother Sarfraz, died at 4 while she was 8years old. She also lost her twin brother Ahmed, who died at age 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.
Dailymail reported that Scientific studies over at least 30years have linked first-cousin unions to an increased risk of genetic disease. However nobody is really speaking against it as they fear being labelled racist, while individuals among the groups most affected are reluctant to be seen as disloyal to their society.
Aisha’s Pakistani-born parents, Mohammed and Barkat are First cousins. And fresh studies have indicated that why there is a rise in genetic disorders in children is due to Marriage of relatives in the Pakistani society.
Aisha herself has kicked against her societal Beliefs stating that the Pakistani community must Embrace this as a problem. she also stated that the Pakistani community should accept these findings and should be aware that they are more prone to these genetic diseases because of their societal inbreeding.
She was to be married to be married to her cousin but she refused due to fear of future complications.
Aisha stated ‘My dad would not accept that being married to his cousin could have affected his children,’ she said. ‘He’d say, “The doctors are wrong. It’s in the hands of God.”
‘In his mind, it was all about the will of Allah – nothing to do with genetics, which made me hugely frustrated. He’d say if genetics was the reason, how come some of his children were healthy?
‘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.’