British Pakistani Girl Hiba Maroof, 18, from Bradford, currently studying at the University of Leeds, is faced with the dilemma of whether she should follow family tradition and marry a cousin or tie the knot with a man of her own choice.
She comes from a British-Pakistani community, in which around 60 per cent of mothers are married to their cousins.
Hiba speaks to family members and also other British Pakistani women who are at the same crossroads as her.
Her 18-year-old cousin Amin sums up the pressure they face when she tells her: ‘Sometimes you have to listen to your parents as well to keep them happy. So if you don’t listen to your parents they think that you don’t love them.’
In British Pakistani communities, marriage between cousins is designed to strengthen the family and keep wealth intact.
First-cousin marriage has gone on within Pakistani families for generations, with up to 70 per cent still following the practice today.
Hiba goes to see two potential suitors — her young male cousins — in Pakistan. Hiba is an inquisitive teen who is keen to get married but wants to find a ‘good-looking’ man who is ‘trustworthy and open-minded’.
She is filmed travelling to Mirpur, Pakistan, where her family hails from. She struggles to have a conversation with the two boys, university students who appear to like the idea of marrying her and coming to live in Britain.
Back home, Hiba deals with the problem in a practical way. Hiba admits she has concerns over the health issues of interbreeding.
The problem is that babies born in cousin marriages can suffer what are called ‘recessive’ genetic disorders, associated with severe disability and early death.
Many children who die, or whose health is seriously damaged, are born to British-Pakistani families just like Hiba’s, which itself has a genetic history of acute deafness, and the blood disorder thalassaemia.
Yet, in any case, as the documentary later reveals, she decides not to marry either of the cousins.
The BBC Three documentary is available to view on BBC iPlayer.