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Tajik MP Comes Out Against Cousin Marriage

Saodat Amirshoeva, a female MP in the Tajik President's People's Democratic Party of Tajikistan (PDPT), seems to have a passion for trying to regulate marriage. Back in 2010, she proposed to ban girls from getting married before the age of 22. In 2013, she warned Tajik women against marrying non-Muslims, “especially Chinese”. Now she is returning to her favorite theme by urging the parliament to outlaw cousin marriage.

MP Saodat Amirshoeva

MP Saodat Amirshoeva

Speaking to journalists on March 4, Amirshoeva described [tj] cousin marriage as “immoral” and blamed the practice for what she believed was an alarming number of children born with birth defects. According to the MP, more than a third of Tajikistan's 25,500 children with disabilities were born to parents who share at least one grandparent. 

Marrying within the family is common in Tajikistan. Yet, some netizens supported the MP's initiative. Commenting on the Radio Ozodi's (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's Tajik service) report, Shodi wrote [tj]:

Депутатхои мухтарам ин конуна хатман кабул кунед,ин бадбахтии миллат аст, бо шахсони аз авлод берун оиладор шуда риштаи хешутабориро зиед кардан лозим аст

Dear [MPs], please pass this law. [Cousin marriage] is a national misfortune. [Tajiks] should marry outside their families and extend their familial links.

Mirkhovand chipped in [tj]:

хамхобаги бо хеши наздик бадахлокии нафратангез аст. инчо масъалаи хукумату ислом нест масъалаи ахлок аст…

Having sexual relations with close relatives is nasty and immoral. This is not an issue of the government or Islam, this is a moral issue…

Many more netizens, however, had their reasons to criticize the initiative. Khasan asked [tj]: 

О ин мардум дигар кор надоранд. ха рурз ном нав куниву хучат навкуни. ба ин корхо оё мо пеш меравем? албатта не! хар рузе дар шабакахои Руссия кудакони навзодеро нишон медихат ки нокисусакл ё бо норасоии чисмони таваллуд шудаанд. магар онхохам хешу табор буданд? кадуюмаш минталитети мо ин талаботхоро кабул намекунад. дар дехот аксаран хама кариб хешутабори доранд.

Don't these people have other things to be busy with? Every day they want us to change our names [see Global Voices report] or change documents. Are all these things helping us develop? Of course not! Russian TV channels show babies born with different disabilities almost every day. Were those babies also born to parents married within the family? Our mentality will not let us accept this initiative. In villages, almost all people are related to each other.

Another anonymous reader doubted [tj] Amirshoeva's claims that cousin marriages were to be blame for disabilities in newborns:

Тахлилро хону кайф кун. Сабабхои маризихо инхо мебошанд….
Хонахои сард.
дур аз тарбяи фарзанд.
асабони будани падар.
99.9 дар сад инро тахлилхо гувохи медихад.

Read the analysis and enjoy it! Disabilities [in children] have the following causes:
cold houses
father's anger
I am 99.9% confident that studies will prove this.

Amir suggested [tj] that there are better ways to bring down the number of children born with disabilities:

…Маслихати ман ин аст; вакто мехохед чомеаи солим ба дунё биёяд, хешаст ё бегона пеш аз карори хостгори чавон писару духтарро аз муоинаи тибби бигзаронанд, хамчуноне,ки дар кодекс Чумхури (tjk) мавчуд аст. Хамун конуни бударо сахт гиранд, ин рохи осонаст. Дар Точикистон ин конун мувофикат намекунад. Ин фикри хатост. Издивочи хешутабори бадахлоки нест…

…My advice is as follows: if you want to have healthy children, whether you are married within the family or outside, the young men and women [creating a family] should have their health checked. There is a provision to this effect in the Tajik [legislation]. Enforcing the law is easy. A law [banning cousin marriage] will not work in Tajikistan. This is a bad idea. Cousin marriage is not immoral.

Firuz suspected [tj] that the initiative to ban cousin marriage comes from the West:

…Оё хамаи он анбиё ва уламову авлиёе,ки бо хешутабор издивоч карда буданд дур аз ахлок буданд? Кабули ин конун зидди шариъати Исломи буда ба ойини мо точикон мухолифат дорад!!!!! ИН афкори ГАРБЗАДАХО аст!!!!

…Do you think that all the prophets and clergy who had sexual relations with their relatives were immoral? Passing this law would be against the Islamic sharia law and would contradict Tajik customs! This thinking comes from Westernized people!

Another user, writing under the nickname ‘Mukhojir’ [Migrant], recommended [tj] that Tajik MPs spend their energy on something else:

Ин конунро якуним хазорсол мешавад дар ягон давлати мусалмон зиндагимекардаги инро маън накардаанд.шумо намояндахои халк проблема кам доред ки боз ин конунхои хандаовар мебароред.бисери конуни кабулкардаи шумо хандаовар аст.як конун кабул кунед ки ба фоидаи халк бошад.кудакони навзоди точик ки аз хамма бисер мемуранд ин аз руи хешутабори нест ин аз руи кашоки бевитамини беназоратии духтурон аст.масъалаи порагиро бубинед кормандони давлати руирост пора мегиранду ягон чора дида намешавад…

Over the last 1,500 years not a single Muslim [society] has banned [cousin marriage]. You, people's representatives, obviously have few problems and, therefore, make such laughable laws. The law you are [working on] is laughable. Why don't you write laws that would benefit people? Most newborns that die in Tajikistan do so because of poverty, lack of vitamins, and poor healthcare. You'd better address the problem of bribery: public servants openly accept [or solicit] bribes, and nothing is done about that…

  • Valentina

    I think Tajik people should have public discussions about con and contras of cousin marriages. From a scientific point of view, these marriages are very risky because children can posses more DNA (the cod that each person has inside) abnormalities. If Tajik public will understand all con and contras of cousin marriages, the society might eliminate these marriages without any laws.

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