Trends of consanguineous marriages in a Sunni Muslim population of West Bengal, India
The Muslim population of the Chaltaberia village in the district of South 24 Parganas in West Bengal is divided into several wards (paras) inhabited by people of specific surnames. The frequency of endogamous marriages within surnames is greater than randomly expected ones. An incomplete reproductive isolation is observed among the five dominant surnames. Consanguineous marriages occur more often outside the village than inside. Leaving out marriages between long distances, a small median distance of 6.36 km is recorded. The neighborhood area works up to be 552.2 km2, which is rather small. There is an underlying process of breeding isolation by distance. A generation length of 21 years has been used for examining the temporal change in consanguineous marriages and inbreeding, which generally appears to increase. There is a general trend of decline in consanguineous marriages towards the southern part of West Bengal and eastern part of Assam among the Bengalee Muslims. The frequency of consanguineous marriages is 7.3% out of all marriages (N=1153) that have taken place in six generations in the population. The first cousin marriage is nearly 50% of all marriages. Patrilineal marriages are common in marriages between second and third cousins. An increase of consanguineous marriages in the younger generation was observed, but the total frequency agrees with a general trend of a decline in the frequency of consanguineous marriages among the Muslims in this part of India.
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