Articles from international media:
The Right to Know
By: Enass Abu-Khalaf
Marriage between close relatives is a wide spread phenomena in the Palestinian territories, but in the west bank city of Hebron this phenomena is like a ticking time bomb that waits to explode at anytime and destroys the lives of many families. Although its consequences are very clear for everyone to see many families continue to ignore them, relying on the philosophy which conceder Intermarriage as protection for a son or a daughter when they are in the age to get married.
During my visit to “Al-Fawwar” refugee camp which only presents a sample of this dangerous case, I met with A family consists of 8 members, the parents who were the first cousins in the family to get married they have six children all of whom suffer to varying degrees from mental retardations. Nevertheless none of them or their relatives is prepared to admit that the main reason for their tragedy is the fact that they are related instead they say: “It is god who decides our fate, as believers we have no choice!” as if god in his wisdom failed to empower us with the ability to decide right from wrong. There are other excuses too: for instance, some point to the fact that many couples who are not related still have mentally retarded children which goes to prove for them that there is nothing to do with rumors concerning the dangers of Intermarriage.
On the other hand doctors and social workers are more realistic although they believe in destiny too!! Dr. Aref Dweik a specialist in the newborns disorders confirmed that out of all the cases brought to him more than 80 percent of babies born with a chronic nervous disorders were born to first or second cousins of the family, he also added that in Hebron he received many repeated cases in the same family after offering advice to avoid the intermarriage. Other doctors mentioned that most of newborn babies to inter the ICU directly after their birth were born to parents who are related. When it comes to the religious side of this phenomena inside of this society, I was shocked to see that the religious members inside these families are aware of the reality that Islam discouraged marriage between close relatives and have laid down laws and rules to prevent it and they don’t need a stronger evidence than the speech of prophet Mohammad –peace be upon him-when he directly prohibited Intermarriages.
There are no doubts in the connection between intermarriage and early marriage it’s like two faces of one coin. Parents very often force their sons or daughters into an early marriage with cousin simply in order to secure their hold on a land or property which is also unforgettable, in some cases also the desire to marry off a daughter to a cousin is the result of a desire on the part of the parents to ensure that she doesn’t marry a stranger and moves into another town or city or refugee camp.
In order to overcome an expected tragedy there is first a need to guarantee that there is respect for the freedom and dignity of women in all ages, as a priority their right to know what is the real side of such kind of marriages, this holly right to know is a first important step on the way of freedom and democracy in our society, which is no easy task!!
A second and more practical solution is to make a medical test before getting married, it is now possible for engaged couples to know in advance if they are suitable for each other from the medical side. In Cyprus as a country of the Middle East region it is possible through a simple medical examination for the couples to determine if any babies will be born with “Talasimia” were all potential couples to undergo such testing, the incidence of this serious blood disorder could be reduced to one fifth of the current rate.
For a fourteen or a fifteen years girl who was forced or choose to marry an eighteen years cousin hides a critical question that deserves a small stop to think: What about their right to know?!
In this issue, Read The following:
International Year of
Effects of Smoking