Some subjects for discussion are often regarded as taboo. The subject matter being regarded as either distasteful or something to be consigned to being swept under the carpet for the sake of peace, community cohesion and the good old British Tradition of looking the other way.

I have recently written on Grooming gangs and their dire effect upon the British public of all religions and communities. In my research, I have stumbled across another potentially explosive but rarely discussed problem.

That is the cultural tradition for Pakistanis to marry first cousins. This is not, as I thought, illegal in Great Britain. Surprisingly it is not covered or addressed in the Marriage act of 1949. (surely a time now to revisit this act of Parliament and modernise it)

At the last Census of Great Britain in 2011, those recorded members of the population identifying as Pakistani heritage was 1,174,983. Approximately 250,000 visit this country each year for work or some other purpose. It is thought 270,000 visit Pakistan in any one year. It is difficult to find any actual figures in any recognised study that would let us know how many of the 250,000 stay on and remain here. Therefore, the population now in 2018 of Pakistani people living and residing here is anyone`s guess.

There is evidence that up to 55% of Pakistani marriages are between first cousins. This is to the Indigenous British an uncomfortable statistic and does not sit well with our view on family and marriage within the family unit. It is an accepted practice going back 400 years and as it is not illegal, and it has to, therefore, be taken as a cultural difference with which we must live.

Childbirth resulting from these marriages though does throw up some uncomfortable truths in that congenital defects from births within a first cousin marriage are higher in number than those from within traditional marriages between two different families.

3% of births in Britain are of Pakistani parents, 30% of those result in congenital defects ranging from heart and nervous system problems to autism. Many are stillborn. A study between 2007 and 2011 of 13,776 babies in Bradford (reported on in the Lancet)  called “born in Bradford” resulted, amongst a great deal of data in that, in simple terms, there was a doubling of abnormalities of babies from within the study group for first cousin marriages.

“Consanguinity is a major risk factor for congenital anomaly. The risk remains even after adjustment for deprivation and accounts for a third of anomalies in babies of Pakistani origin.”

This was a report not much highlighted by anyone, particularly Bradford Council. A large body of work over 6 years that has not had much, if any press.

Within the census in 2011 the data relating to Pakistani age groups is also disturbing in that 1 in 5 of British Pakistanis domiciled here are under 15 years of age with only 4% over 65. This means that going forward many more are likely to marry their first cousins resulting in the obvious continuing rise in numbers of abnormalities within newborn children. This will have an obvious financial cost to the National Health, Education and children`s welfare departments of our Government.  

In 2015 Baroness Flather, who was a tory but is now a crossbencher and of Pakistani origin made a speech in which she said “it is absolutely appalling that first cousin marriages within Pakistani communities are leading to so much disability among children”

She also called for forced DNA testing to ensure that they are not cousins prior to marriage. She further went on to say “you go to any such family there are four or five children, at least one or two will have some disability. That is absolutely unacceptable and if we cannot do anything about it is it fair to the children?”

Her final words were:

“never mind the parents- it is not fair to the children that they should be allowed to become disabled because of a social practice. It is a social practice which does not belong in today`s age. When we know so much about DNA.  There should be at least some rule which says that you must have a DNA examination before your marriage can be registered.”

These were strong words for the first Asian Baroness who has also highlighted her serious concerns about aspects of Sharia Law.

It is a certainty that this practice, if not addressed will lead to many greater problems within our society within the very near future. With austerity cuts biting deep and growing demands on the NHS and related institutions, this tricky problem must be addressed, with empathy and understanding but also with a determination to educate and therefore eradicate this cultural practice that we cannot afford.

Ed – This podcast between James Delingpole and Stephen Place is an absolute must listen for anyone who found this article of interest.

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