Cultural arguments on pre-marital medical checks [Archives:2009/1222/Culture]

January 5 2009

Ola Al-Shami
Pre-marital medical checks seem to be one of the necessities to guarantee a healthy family as indicated by the Saudi Arabian research paper during a conference commemorating the Arabic Day for Family last week. According to the paper, based on these medical results, the engaged couples would either be encouraged or discouraged to continue their relationship.

However, different cultures look at this concept from their common point of view or cultural point of view. Yemen. Egypt and Saudi Arabia have different opinions on dealing with this concept based on whether it is acceptable and how it could be applied in these cultures.

There are many challenges for applying this pre-marital step in Yemen. The family is the main challenge. “We don't agree with this point in Yemen because we don't have to be afraid of any inherited diseases. When we accept the man we asked first for his behavior and second his origins so we avoid any possible dangers,” said Om Abdolwase'e Al-qadhi, 30, a housewife from Sana'a. She added that if a man requests this from any family the parents will definitely refuse his request and they might break up the engagement.

“As far as I know, none of my friends have done medical checks before marriage. I believe that this idea isn't acceptable here in Yemen even among couples who are close relatives. Some traditions are unchangeable,” said Ashwaq Abu Talip, an MA student at Sana'a University.

On the other hand, pre-marital checks have been supported and obliged in many other countries. “All the families and couples agree to perform the necessity medical checks and none reject it. Some families agree to continue the marriage celebration even if the results were discouraging. The decision then is regarded to the couples and their parents either to keep up with the relation or to break it,” said Basima Mohammed Al-joa'a, a representative of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor in Saudi Arabia.

“Hurt me an hour rather than the whole life. So, it is now an obligation to commit the marriage and all people do it among the kingdom,” said Abdullah Al-Eliwat, a family guide and researcher at the Happy Home-Al Dammam. He added that civil society organizations had done considerable work to convince the Saudi society of the importance of the pre-marital checks.

The social rejection is one hinder on accepting this idea. However, this is a process done in a safe way. “The pre- marriage medical check is an important technique because the principle of marriage doesn't oppose it. It is to reveal any inherited diseases which would definitely affect the coming generations. Another promising point is that this medical check is done in a complete secret by a medical institution. So, society should accept it,” said Mahmoud Soliman, a researcher in the National Council for Childhood and Motherhood (NCCM) in Egypt.

Government has a vital role in applying this idea as a rule. “The premarital medical check should be obliged by all the governments. Some people in Egypt didn't accept the idea at first, but were convinced after the media investigated and supported this issue. As a result, many concepts were changed and are continue to change because of the active role of the media,” said Ahmed Amin, a researcher at (NCCM)-Egypt.

Regarding Al Jeri culture, this concept is supported by the government. “I agree with this medical check and it has no problem with Arabic law. Al- Jeri law made this check obligatory for both couples. Our law established a formal application form to fill it by the couples. This form includes the data concerning the couples' health,”-said Zoubida Saharaf Al-Deen, Head of the Supreme Council for Judgment, Al-Jeri. She also hopes that Yemen Government would apply this concept.

All in all, there are certain differences among different cultures. Yemeni culture seems to be the main reason why the idea is rejected.