Dating first cousins
Although never outlawed in England, during the second half of the 19 century, many states began to ban marriages between first cousins, as part of a larger movement after the Civil War for greater state involvement in a variety of areas, including education, health and safety.Researchers note that the distinction in marriage bans between England and the U. may be explained by the fact that, in the United States, the practice “was associated not with the aristocracy and upper middle class [Queen Victoria and Prince Albert were second cousins] but with much easier targets: immigrants and the rural poor.” Regardless, cousin marriage bans began popping up across the states, with the first in Kansas (1858).However, first cousin marriage is far more common, and far less dangerous, than many of us have been led to believe, as you’ll soon see.
Cousin marriage has often been chosen to keep cultural values intact, preserve family wealth, maintain geographic proximity, keep tradition, strengthen family ties, and maintain family structure or a closer relationship between the wife and her in-laws.Many such marriages are arranged (see also pages on arranged marriage in the Indian subcontinent, arranged marriages in Pakistan, and arranged marriages in Japan).Writers such as Noah Webster (1758–1843) and ministers like Philip Milledoler (1775–1852) and Joshua Mc Ilvaine helped lay the groundwork for such viewpoints well before 1860.This switch in cousin-marriage’s acceptance began in earnest in some parts of the Western world in the mid-19th century. Natural Selection himself, was married to his first cousin Emma Wedgwood.Specifically, until the 1860s or so, first cousins commonly married in Europe and the U. Nonetheless, the practice soon fell out of fashion in the United States.A recent report on births in a British-Pakistani community (where first cousin marriage is very common) demonstrated that first cousin children there were twice as likely to be born with “potentially life threatening birth defects” as compared with the children of unrelated parents. [unless a] mother had a brother whose wife was impregnated by [mother’s husband].Advocates on the other side point out that this resulted in only a 6% chance for the children in the study, as compared with a 3% chance for the population as a whole. This is not very likely to happen in modern societies that practice first-cousin marriage.In others, it is seen as incestuous and is legally prohibited: it is banned in China and Taiwan, North Korea, South Korea, the Philippines and 24 of the 50 United States.In the past, cousin marriage was practised within indigenous cultures in Australia, North America, South America, and Polynesia.For your reference, this increase in birth defect rate is about the same as the increased risk of a woman having a baby when she is 40 vs. Proponents here point out that few would advocate banning a 40 year old woman from having children. In fact, in a number of countries, including the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Yemen and in the Palestinian Territories, paternal parallel cousin marriage is the preferred form of consanguineous marriage.They also point to recent testing that placed the increased risk of spina bifida and cystic fibrosis at only 1.7% -2.8% higher than for children of unrelated parents. Cousin Marriages Today Globally, cousin marriages are still going strong, with an estimated 10% of all marriages in the world being between cousins, and has high as 50% in some regions of the world.