Consanguineous marriages are on a decline in Bahrain

26 Sep, '04

Consanguineous marriages now comprise 39 percent of marriages, down from 45.5 percent in previous generations (Al-Arrayed, 1995). This trend for preferential first cousin marriage has serious health implications, including effects on sexual development for the children produced by these couples. The coefficient for inbreeding in Bahrain is 0.0145 (Al-Naser, 1993). The child mortality rate is Bahrain is three times that of Japan, even though Bahrain is ranked as an otherwise low-mortality population. The Bahrain Child Health Survey of 1989 showed that one quarter of births occurred between first cousins. The mortality rate for these offspring during their first month and first twenty-three months is two times higher than children of unrelated parents. The study showed that women who marry relatives, especially their first cousin, tend to marry younger, are illiterate, their parents were illiterate, and they live in rural areas. Other practices contributing to higher mortality include polygynous marriage, remarriage after divorce, short intervals between births, employment of women only in the home, breast feeding for an average of 10.6 months, malnutrition, and lower socioeconomic status. The author of the study suggested that the government needs to discourage first cousin marriage, to raise the marriage age to 18, to teach the illiterate about birth spacing which is part of Islamic teaching, and to allow polygamy only if the man can afford it (Al-Naser, 1993). Sheikha Al-Arrayed disagrees with the contraindications for consanguineous marriage and cites its traditional history and social benefits, even though 42.8 percent of her sample reported familial genetic diseases (1995).

Some Bahraini men marry expatriate women who are Moslems or non-Moslems. They meet while studying at European, American, or Asian universities, while working in hospitals, or while traveling. The man’s family may accept or reject the woman, depending on her religion, country of origin, or other factors. Bahrainis may marry other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) nationals with family approval, and occasionally Indian or Pakistani Moslems, but rarely Westerners who have converted to Islam. In these cross-cultural marriages, it is the woman’s choice what passport she wishes to maintain. Holders of non-Bahraini passports cannot own property in Bahrain.

Once the agreement of the two individuals has been given to marry, regardless of the type of marriage, then the families decide upon the monetary arrangements for the dowry (mahr), which is a gift symbolizing love and affection (Badawi, 1980:17). According to Islamic law, there is a marriage contract (Al-Rayd) for all Moslem marriages. This contract specifies the money the man and/or his family will pay at the time of the official engagement in the mosque, any “seconds� if all the money is not available at once, and the “last� money to be paid at the end of the marriage upon divorce or death. The first and second money can be paid to the woman, or to her father for holding. Any “second� money, in case of the early death of the man, is paid before the money in the estate is apportioned to other heirs; or any other money he may have borrowed or was holding for his wife is paid first, as the money was hers, fit ajulain, in life or death. The contract once signed is a legal document and is blessed in the mosque and then registered with the Courts

The International Encyclopedia of Sexuality – Bahrain
Julanne McCarthy

Fascinating reading! I never knew that someone had done actual research on our sexual habits, but they have!

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Comments (4)

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  1. kategirl says:

    Consanguineous marriages are on a decline in Bahrain

    Wow Mahmood, what a great find! Where did you get a hold of this?

    This study really digs deep into Bahraini society. Absolutely fascinating . Anyone that wants to know what Bahrain is really like, I’d recommend they go through all of this study.

  2. salima44 says:

    Consanguineous marriages are on a decline in Bahrain

    [quote]Consanguineous marriages now comprise 39 percent of marriages, down from 45.5 percent in previous generations (Al-Arrayed, 1995).[/quote]

    Do you think that in the close to 10 years since this study, that the rate of consanguineous marriages has continued to decline or has it remained static?

  3. mahmood says:

    Re: Consanguineous marriages are on a decline in Bahrain

    I think it has, but I don’t have the figures to prove it. Just a feeling. Anyone else care to elaborate on this?

  4. julia says:

    i have been reading the lines regarding the marriage between a western woman and a muslim from bahrain.

    i would like to get married to him , how can i do that and what kind of papers do i need to get married in front of God , in the mosque .

    thank you .

    i really need this information

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