This House believes marriage between close family members should be discouraged

Monday March 19 2012
MOTION PASSED by 81% to 19%

Opinion poll

A majority of Arabs believe that inter-marriages between blood relatives should be discouraged and want their governments to educate the public about possible health risks linked to such marriages, according to the latest Doha Debates opinion poll.

Sixty-eight percent of respondents believe that consanguineous marriage - the union of two biologically-related people, including, most controversially, first cousins, should be discouraged due to "increased risks of genetic illnesses including physical deformities and mental illness".

Respondents from the Levant stood strongest against such marriages, with 79 percent  believing they should be discouraged. Most respondents claimed they were aware about health risks involved in marriages among blood relatives.

The overall poll findings were lower than the results of the March 19 Doha Debate in which 81 percent of the audience carried the motion: "This House believes marriage between close family members should be discouraged."

Over half of those who believe such marriages should not be discouraged argued such arrangements could help strengthen family ties and ensure lower divorce rates due to "compatibility of spouses". Thirty-eight percent of those who did not oppose such marriages doubted medical reports warning against possible genetic diseases resulting from such marriages.

A majority of those surveyed did not think enough steps have been taken by Arab governments, media and schools to educate people about the possible health risks associated with marriage between relatives. But over half of them said they believe Arab governments are unlikely to take measures to discourage such marriages.

Nine out of 10 respondents said pre-marital genetic medical tests should become mandatory before people are allowed to tie the knot, but a majority said it should be the individual's choice to decide whether to get married to a close family member or not.

The survey, conducted by the polling company YouGov between the 10th and 16th of April, questioned 1,132 people. 

Polling dates: Polling dates: 10th 16th April 2012

Download the polling data [PDF]

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