A study has suggested that the number of people marrying their cousins in the Bradford Pakistani community is falling.
According to the research, in 2013 the percentage of children whose parents were first or second cousins was around 60 percent.
Fast forward 10 years and that number has fallen to around 46 percent. Furthermore, the original study demonstrated that two cousins marrying doubled the risk of birth defects which affected just six percent of children in this category.
Speaking about the trend, chief investigator of the Born in Bradford study, Dr John Wright, said: “In just under a decade we’ve had a significant shift from cousin marriage being, in a sense, a majority activity to now being just about a minority activity.”
One young woman told the BBC that there has been an intergenerational clash with younger people rejecting arranged marriages.
She said: “Ten years ago my mum was adamant we would all have cousin marriages but now she doesn’t focus on that.
“I think families realised they couldn’t control it. They knew that being in Britain, and being exposed to so many different viewpoints, it is going to change.”
According to Professor Neil Small, there could be several reasons why the number of cousin marriages has fallen.
This includes an increased awareness of the risk of congenital abnormalities, staying in education for longer, changes in immigration rules, and shifting family dynamics which are changing conversations about marriage.
As a result, more young people are choosing to go out and find their own partner rather than have an arranged wedding, a trend helped by social media that increases opportunities to talk to and meet others.
One young woman, Malika, explained that social media helps to open up “contact with people outside our parent’s eyes”.
What’s more, according to the Born in Bradford team, the next generation of teenagers will be less likely to want to marry their cousins.
One teenager said: “People of our generation or even the generation above, don’t see it as a very normal thing and we’re grossed out by it.
“So I don’t think I’d be willing to marry a cousin from back home.”
Another added: “It’s easier to meet new people nowadays. Say you were from a village in Pakistan, it was easier to meet someone there.
“But now in Bradford, you can meet so many different people, and you can still marry your people, but not someone you’re related to.”