Doha to debate on marriages between cousins

March 17, 2012

Students, professionals and expatriates will gather at Georgetown University School of Foreign Service to debate on whether or not to discourage marriages between close family members, organisers of the Doha Debates said.

Arguing on each side of the panel are two geneticists who have conducted research on the health implications of close family marriages and two social commentators, one from Saudi Arabia, the other from the UK.

Consanguinity is widely stigmatised in the West, but marriages between first and second cousins still account for over 10 per cent of marriages worldwide. The regions with the highest rates of consanguineous marriage are Africa, the Middle East and South Asia.

Tim Sebastian, chairman and presenter of The Doha Debates, said that he expected the debate on Monday to be lively and controversial.

“This is a highly sensitive debate,” he said. “It covers genetics, culture, tradition and a wide variety of family issues. In the context of an Arab world that is, to some extent, redefining itself, I am sure it will be a thought-provoking discussion.”

The Doha Debates, now in their eighth year, is a forum dedicated to offering young people an opportunity to discuss major issues that affect their lives.

The Doha Debates is hosted and funded by Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development.



About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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