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"It is well known within the community that such marriages do produce deformed babies.
No one talks about it, but it is one of the reasons why I found such a marriage to someone so closely related to myself to be so very repugnant.
Don’t take it a step too far and risk losing what you have now.”“Actually, it’s not considered incest between cousins.
There is a very, very low chance of birth defects, and most US states legally allow first cousins to get married.
Only one per cent of unions in the UK are between cousins, but in Bradford that figure is much higher – 18 per cent of unions, and 37 per cent of those within the Pakistani community.
The new “Born in Bradford” study, published in The Lancet today, is largest of its type and the first in the UK to take into account the effect of socio-economic factors, age and lifestyle factors the prevalence of birth defects, in order to isolate the impact that cousin marriage – or consanguinity.
For, in the eyes of her Muslim family, Khaleda has done the unthinkable.
To make a long story short, my cousin and I became close friends, then fell in love with each other.
And according to Khaleda - who today, having escaped "the marriage from hell," lives in hiding with her British partner, Phil - she is far from alone.
She says: "Virtually every Asian girl I have ever met has an arranged marriage and the vast majority of them are to their cousins.
Khaleda's story makes shocking reading for anyone who is under the misguided belief that such marriages do not regularly go on in Britain today.
For Khaleda, who was born in Britain and took GCSEs and A-levels at her British school in the hope of becoming a teacher in this country, was forced by her father to go to Pakistan and marry his cousin - a man 20 years her senior, who spoke no English and whom she had never even met.