Friday, December 16, 2005

Speaking of Inbreeding

Culture: This is one of the more amusing reactions I have seen. This happened back in November.

Marriages between cousins should be banned after research showed alarming rates in defective births among Asian communities in Britain, a Labour MP said last night. The report, commissioned by Ann Cryer, revealed that the Pakistani community accounted for 30 per cent of all births with recessive disorders, despite representing 3.4 per cent of the birth rate nationwide. "We address problems of smoking, drinking, obesity and we say it's a public health issue, therefore we have to get involved with persuading people to adopt a different lifestyle," the MP for Keighley, Bradford, told BBC2's Newsnight programme last night. "I think this should be applied to the Asian community. They must look outside the family for husbands and wives for their young people." It is estimated that more than 55 per cent of British Pakistanis are married to first cousins, resulting in an increasing rate of genetic defects and high rates of infant mortality. The likelihood of unrelated couples having the same variant genes that cause recessive disorders are estimated to be 100-1. Between first cousins, the odds increase to as much as one in eight. In Bradford, more than three quarters of all Pakistani marriages are believed to be between first cousins. The city's Royal Infirmary Hospital has identified more than 140 different recessive disorders among local children, compared with the usual 20-30. The findings were expected to be condemned by the Asian community, in which many see the tradition of marriages between first cousins as culturally fundamental. "You have an understanding, you have the same family history," said Neila Butt, who has had two children with her husband, Farooq, her first cousin. "It's just a nicer emotional feel."
What I missed was the Hindu "don't lump us in with them" reaction because of politically correctness in using the term Asian.
The Hindu Forum of Britain has raised objection to a parliamentarian's comments on first-cousin marriages in the Asian community in the country. In a letter to Ms Ann Cryer, MP, the HFB expressed alarm ''at the way you labelled the communities involved.'' By saying that you wished to discourage first-cousin marriages in the Asian community, you have shown a high level of ignorance of the diversity within the Asian community and the cultural differences that permeate within the letter said. ....The name of the gotra is passed from father to son to ensure that genetic inbreeding does not happen. In this sense the Hinduism is the only faith in the world where genetic inbreeding has been prevented for thousands of years through a meticulous system that has been established and is still prevalent. Yet, you have tarnished our entire community by using the word 'Asian', when the fact is that the Hindu genetic pool is probably much more diverse and expansive than the Christian or Jewish ones,'' the letter added. The HFB urged the MP to be more careful ''when you use words to describe communities.'' It said ''the BBC has opted to use the word 'Pakistani' to identify this problem which is definitely better than the word 'Asian'. However, Indian and Bangladeshi Muslims too marry first cousins. Yet, if you feel that the word 'Muslim' is not appropriate due to the sensitivities involved, please continue to use the word 'Pakistani' as the BBC have done.'' ''However, to continue to use the word 'Asian' to describe this problem is unfair to the Hindu and Sikh communities from an Asian background.'' the HFB added.

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