Dear Phil Woolas,
If you are going to criticise cultural practices in the Pakistani community under the guise of science by suggesting that cousin marriage increases the risk of having disabled children, please do your research first. This study of the high incidence of ‘recessive disorders’ amongst the British Pakistani community suggests that the picture is far more complex than a simple correlation between cousin marriage and the birth of disabled children. A couple of points that leap out include: cousin marriage over many generations actually reduces the incidence of ‘recessive disorders’, so the Pakistani community cannot be marrying their cousins as frequently as you suggest; cousin marriage is popular amongst the Muslim community, but not amongst the Sikh community, which is almost exclusively exogamous (although there is marriage within caste), yet both have a similar rate of recessive disorders; that some studies have shown that recessive alleles (which cause inherited disability) are similar in both white and Pakistani populations, yet the incidence of disability amongst Pakinstani infants is ten time higher. The study cannot explain why the Pakistani population has a greater incidence of disability than the white population, but, whatever the answer is, it’s more complicated than cousin marriage.