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|Couples Still Prefer to Marry Relatives|
Article Date: April 07, 2008
Relative marriage is accelerating as the percentage of relative marriages in Yemen is 47.5%. This comes higher than all Arab countries, as in Saudi and Palestine the number is at 40%, and 38% in Kuwait and Egypt. Not surprisingly, the number is lower in western countries which reaches only 1-2% in the United States.
In rural areas, people still consider this kind of marriage as blood marriage, as they bear in mind that if they marry their daughter to a man who is not from their family, they bring an unfamiliar member to their ethnic group.
In some societies it is the mother's job to look for a suitable wife for her son as she prefers to choose her niece or close relative, whom she always prefers over other choices.
This is done as families feel that marrying their daughter to a close relative will be an easier change for the young girl, as she will go to the family member's house where she feels emotionally relaxed.
The bride also believes that to be a wife of her cousin and a daughter-in-law to her aunt will give her more comfort as well as decrease conflicts in marriage, particularly between mother’s in law.
Hadeel Salih, an English language teacher, who is married to her cousin, said that marriages among relatives could be successful. "You get to share the same parties and events. On Eid it is not like: 'oh I have to go to his parents' home or she has to go to my parents' home.' We visit the same family," she said.
On the other hand, when such marriages turn sour, the problem ends up involving the whole family. Hadeel said that even when family members try being objective, they end up leaning towards one side more than the other.
Other reasons for the spread of relative marriage in Yemen is also due to the tribal background, where tribesmen feel their daughters are safer after marriage when they are near and close, therefore choosing a relative or even a close neighbor or friend for their daughter.
Zayad Al-Magtary, a 26 year old university graduate said that he was forced by his family to get engaged to his cousin, the girl who he did not even get a chance to see before engagement. "My mother asked me to buy a ring and bracelet and she will do the rest. I did not see the woman and didn't know how she was " Zayad Al-Magtari added.
Lack of money, and a weak economy led numerous men to marry their cousins in hopes of not paying high dowries to get married from other families. In return, rich families prefer to marry off their daughters to rich families in hope of a better life for their daughters.
Monasser Mohamed Al-Sabahi ,35, said that marriage to ones close relative causes fights among the married couple.
Scientific research has proved that marriage between relatives could cause genetic diseases because the genes causing these diseases gather up from the two relatives. But if marriage is between non-relatives, this probability becomes less evident. The closer the blood relationship, the more probable these diseases could happen.
Marriage to a relative is neither a cause to separating genetic disease among families nor a devil to families as many relative marriages are seen happy and having healthy children. "I got married to my cousin 14 year ago, and we have been living a happy life with our three daughters and two sons. They are healthy as well" said Ryad Saleh Anam.Anciently, there were marriages between close relatives and it was not limited to the ordinary people. It was practiced through prophets as well as in the case of the marriage of prophet Ibrahim and Sarah. “ It is something we consider safe and makes it easier to get along with your mate after marriage. That is why divorce rate in Yemen is far lower than every country in the region,” says Mahyoob Al-Mighdadi, a father of four and married to his cousin.