Consanguineous Marriage and Kinship System: Impact of Socio-Cultural Dynamics among the Muslims of Delhi, India
In the National Family Health Survey (NFHS 1992-93) consanguineous marriages accounted for 22 per cent of the total representative sample of 8,436 women but, the socio-cultural determinants of such marriages remain largely unexplored. This essay examines the relative importance of the three commonly perceived reasons for such marriages: religious, economic and cultural. The analysis is based on quantitative and qualitative data collected in 2006 from different Muslim communities in Delhi. Results show that consanguineous marriages are less preferred over non-consanguineous marriages, and that parents continue to be the prime decision-makers for marriages of both sons and daughters. Despite earlier instances of socio-cultural advantages of consanguineous marriages, the present study shows that such unions are perceived to be exploitative as they perpetuate the existing power structures within the family. It is found that all those perceived notions associated with consanguineous marriages like economic benefi ts, consolidation of family property, smaller or less expensive dowries do not withstand contemporary social standards of the Muslim society.