Academic journal article Journal of Marriage and Family

Modern Traditionalism: Consanguineous Marriage in Qatar

Academic journal article Journal of Marriage and Family

Modern Traditionalism: Consanguineous Marriage in Qatar

Article excerpt

Consanguineous marriage, or matrimony between biological relatives, is commonplace in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and rising in many of the region's countries (Weinreb, 2008). Approximately one third of all marriages in the MENA take place between first or second cousins, although there is considerable variation both between and within countries (see Tadmouri et al., 2009).

Research from a variety of international settings indicates that as countries undergo modernization, arranged and consanguineous matrimony declines and "love" marriages increase (Applbaum, 1995; Fox, 1975; Givens & Hirschman, 1994; Otani, 1991; Xiaohe & Whyte, 1990; Zang, 2008). In the rapidly modernizing MENA region, consanguinity is decreasing in countries such as Jordan, Lebanon, and Bahrain (Al-Arrayed, 1999; Khlat, 1988; Khoury & Massad, 1992) but persists in others. In MENA nations such as Qatar (the site of this research), Yemen, and the United Arab Emirates, the prevalence of consanguineous marriage is greater than it was a generation ago, hovering near 50% (Sandridge, Takeddin, Al-Kaabi, & Frances, 2010; Tadmouri et al., 2009). Increased levels of education for women have been found to mitigate this trend (Jurdi & Saxena, 2003), but not always (Shah, 2004). Using attitudinal surveys over time in Iran, Abbasi-Shavazi, McDonald, and Hosseini- Chavoshi (2008) reported that the younger and more educated the woman, the more likely she is to prefer consanguineous marriage. These findings are echoed by studies conducted in Kuwait (Al-Awadi et al., 1985) and Pakistan (Hussain, 1999), where modernization has increased but rates of consanguinity remain virtually unchanged, and by studies of Arab immigrants in Belgium (Reiniers, 2001) and Britain (Darr & Modell, 1988), where rates of consanguinity among these populations remain high despite the Westernized settings.

The preference for endogamous marriage predates Islam (Shaw, 2001) and has been found in areas of the world where Islam is not the predominant religion (Bittles, 1991; Bittles, Mason, Greene, & Rao, 1994). Consanguinity is higher for members of Islam versus other religions and for Sunni Muslims versus Shiite (Abbasi-Shavazi et al., 2008), but some qualitative studies (e.g., Hussain, 1999) have found no relationship between the Islamic faith and consanguinity. Arab nations with strong tribal traditions show higher rates of consanguinity within tribes as well as among Bedouin populations (Radovanovic, Shah, & Behbehani, 1999; Shah, 2004). All studies have found a significant preference for first-cousin unions over second-cousin unions or other arrangements (e.g., Abbasi-Shavazi et al., 2008; Hussain, 1999; Jurdi & Saxena, 2003; Shaw, 2001). Rates of consanguineous marriage tend to be elevated in rural areas as compared to urban zones; to be greater for younger women; and to have an inverse relationship to wealth and income, autonomy, and premarital employment (Abbasi-Shavazi et al., 2008; Bittles, Grant, & Shami, 1993; Gunaid, Hummad, & Tamim, 2004; Jurdi & Saxena, 2003; Shah, 2004; Weinreb, 2008). The mitigating effect of education on consanguinity is more complicated. Some studies (Gunaid et al., 2004; Khoury & Massad, 1992; Weinreb, 2008) have found a negative correlation between levels of education and rates of consanguineous marriage, whereas others (Abbasi-Shavazi et al., 2008; Jurdi & Saxena, 2003) have found a positive correlation between these variables. This may be an artifact of the data themselves, explained by extraneous variables such as gender (Qidwai, Syed, & Khan, 2003) and ethnicity (Abbasi- Shavazi et al., 2008), which have been found to influence preference for consanguinity.

Numerous scholars (Al-Gazali et al., 1997; Clarke, 2007; Hussain, 1999; Shaw, 2001; Weinreb, 2008) have documented the reasons why consanguineous marriage persists in the MENA and parts of Asia: tradition; culture; status; preservation of family honor, name, and wealth; and other perceived benefits. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.