Title

Prevalence and perceptions about consanguineous marriages among patients presenting to family physicians, in 2001 at a teaching hospital in Karachi, Pakistan

Document Type

Article

Department

Family Medicine; Community Health Sciences

Abstract

Aim: Consanguineous marriages are common in Pakistan despite their declining popularity in the developed world. In the present study, a questionnaire based survey was used to record the attitudes and perceptions of consanguineous marriages among the sample population.
Methods: A questionnaire was developed to collect information on the acceptability of, and perceptions about, consanguineous marriages among patients presenting to family physicians, at the Family Practice Center of the Aga Khan University Hospital in Karachi, Pakistan. Demographic data was collected as part of the questionnaire. Each participating patient signed a consent form after assurance of confidentiality was provided.
Results: A total of 393 patients were surveyed. The mean age of the study population was 29.4 years, 165 (42%) were men and 228 (58%) were women. The majority were married, well educated and were students, in private or government service or self employed. One hundred (25%) of the respondents were either married or were planning to marry their first cousin, and 57 (14%) their second cousin. The main reasons in favor of consanguineous marriages were quoted as: ‘arranged marriage’, ‘it is healthy to marry within the family’ and ‘it is traditional’. Some 271 (69%) of the respondents said ‘yes’ to their son or daughter marrying within the family. Constraints of religion, status, caste, family differences and the fear of incompatibility were among the reasons quoted as difficulties in finding a mate outside the family. Neurological diseases, diabetes mellitus and hypertension were quoted as diseases resulting from consanguineous marriages. Security of knowing the mate in the family, culture and religion, and having more information about the mate before marriage were quoted as reasons for the continued popularity of consanguineous marriages in Pakistan.
Conclusions: The present study demonstrated a high degree of acceptability of consanguineous marriages among the study population and documented factors influencing such marriages. We recommend further studies, intervention strategies and debate on the issue.

Publication

Asia Pacific Family Medicine