• Tue. Jun 28th, 2022

'Gypsy girl', 18, marries cousin in ceremony that features 73 best men

Apr 20, 2022

‘I feel sorry for their children!’ Outrage as clip resurfaces of teenager, 18, marries her cousin in massive ceremony with 73 best men on Big Fat Gypsy Wedding – as viewers say nuptials ‘should be ILLEGAL’

  • Chantelle Kielly, 18, who lives in Rathkeale, married her first cousin Jim on show 
  • Couple had 73 best men at the ceremony which the whole town was invited to 
  • Bride wore a dress designed by Thelma Madine, adorned with 20,000 crystals
  • Featured on Channel 4’s Big Fat Gypsy Weddings, with clips resurfacing today 

Social media users have been left outraged after a teenager revealed how she married her cousin in a huge ceremony in a resurfaced clip from the Channel 4 show Big Fat Gypsy Wedding.

Chantelle Kielly, 18, who lives in Rathkeale, married her first cousin Jim on an episode of the show which has recently resurfaced, and invited the whole town to watch their union.

The groom went all out by adding 73 best men to his wedding party, while the bride had at least seven bridesmaids. 

Meanwhile Chantelle wore a dress designed by traveller favourite Thelma Madine which was adorned with no less than 20,000 crystals. 

Despite the bride’s enthusiasm for the big day, many social media users have been left horrified by the clip, with one writing: ‘Marrying your first cousin really needs to be made a criminal offence. I feel really sorry for their children.’ 

Big Fat Gypsy Weddings was a massive ratings hit with millions tuning in to see a light shone on one of Britain’s most deprived groups, with the series ending in 2014.  

Chantelle Kielly, 18, who lives in Rathkeale, has revealed how she married her cousin in a huge ceremony featuring 73 best men in a resurfaced clip from the Channel 4 show Big Fat Gypsy Wedding

Traditionally, travelling families spend ten months on the road before returning home each December for wedding season.

The winter months can see as many as ten ceremonies each week take place between those in the community. 

For Chantelle and Jim, the bride’s family were able to secure the engagement by paying his family a dowry, which can range between €50k- €120k.

The couple celebrated their nuptials with a huge party which the whole town was invited to, with the groom saying his  number of best men was ‘average.’ 

At the reception, the couple were joined by guests on the dance floor before they celebrated by cutting into a bespoke Barbie cake

At the reception, the couple were joined by guests on the dance floor before they celebrated by cutting into a bespoke Barbie cake. 

Is it legal to marry your cousin?  

It may be controversial but it is legal to marry your cousin in the UK. 

Relationships described as ‘consanguineous’ are those between couples who are at least second cousins or more closely related. 

The practice has been legal in Britain for more than 400 years, but is considered one of society’s last taboos.

In British Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities, marriage between cousins is designed to strengthen the family and keep wealth intact.

A growing tradition in British Pakistani culture – 55 per cent of youngsters are marrying their first cousins. 

Figures suggest that 42 per cent of all marriages end in divorce, but in first cousin marriages it is 20 per cent. 

It is also common-place in traveller communities.  

But there are massive health risks involved for the children of such couples. 

And when they are tragically born with disabilities, it is taxpayers who are left to pick up the huge costs of their NHS treatment, which can run into millions over a lifetime.    

Britain’s first Asian peer Baroness Shreela Flather has made calls in the past for British Pakistani communities to ensure cousins have DNA tests before getting married.

A former barrister who sits in the House of Lords, she shared her own thoughts on the topic in 2015.

‘There are a lot of first-cousin marriages in certain communities, particularly among Pakistanis who come from the Pakistani Kashmir area.

‘We know so much about DNA now, but there is so much disability among the children, which is absolutely appalling.’

Baroness Flather also blasted parents for ‘allowing children to become disabled’ because of their social practise which she believes doesn’t belong in today’s social age.

She added: ‘There should at least be some rule which says that you must have a DNA examination before your marriage can be registered.’

 

 

Reflecting on the wedding Thelma, the Liverpool seamstress who sews frothy fantasy into wedding day reality for the traveller brides, said: ‘The dress looked beautiful, she really does.

‘They are really nice people, the girls are very respectable. We always say the Irish travellers are like going back 50 years but the Rathkeale girls are like going back 100 years.

‘They’re all family and I think that’s how they keep the wealth in Rathkeale because they just don’t let it go out.’ 

Speaking at the reception, Chantelle said: ‘I want to thank my mother and father for giving me this big day, my sisters and all the people enjoying this wedding.’  

However despite the couple’s joy over the wedding, many of those watching were left horrified by the clip.

One social media user commented on Facebook: ‘Marrying your first cousin should definitely be illegal. 

‘I have watched documentaries on how old European nobility ended up with tons of genetic defects due to marrying first cousins.

‘Definitely too closely related.’

Meanwhile another wrote: ‘Keep it in the family!’

A third added: ‘Wow England, wake up. This is bad. Fourth cousin is okay, but not first! I thought England and Ireland are better at genetics.’

‘So their parents are siblings,’ another wrote. ‘Jeez!’ 

Big Fat Gypsy Wedding revealed the eye-­popping, extravagant nuptials that appear to be the norm today among young ­traveller couples. 

It proved an unlikely hit for Channel 4, pulling in the channel’s highest ratings since the glory days of Big Brother back in 2008. 

However when the series came to an end in 2014, the traveller community complained that Big Fat Gypsy Weddings gave an inaccurate portrayal of their lives. 

Following an open letter to the broadcaster posted online by 17-year-old Pip McKenzie, many have claimed they have been bullied and attacked as a result.

Mr McKenzie said he has been attacked, while his 12-year-old cousin was beaten up by girls calling her a prostitute.

He said: ‘Your documentary, Big Fat Gypsy Weddings, is unfortunately a work of fiction.

‘I am sick of casual racism towards Gypsies and Travellers being tolerated.’

He added: ‘It surprised me to discover that 99 per cent of Britain’s gypsy and traveller population are Irish.

‘Correct me if I’m wrong, as I am sure you have done lots and lots of research on this topic, but just 10 per cent of the gypsy and traveller population are actually Irish travellers.

Many social media users were left stunned by the clip, with some suggesting the nuptials should be ‘illegal’ 

‘The majority, like myself, are in fact Romany, yet your ‘documentary’ seems to ignore our existence.

‘While I have nothing but respect for the Irish traveller community, you seem to be unaware that we are two distinct ethnic groups and thus there are many differences between our cultures.

‘While Irish travellers originate from Ireland, we can trace our routes back to India, so it was hardly surprising that I was somewhat confused when you use the word gypsy in the title of your ‘documentary’ about Irish travellers.’ 

Chantelle wore a dress designed by traveller favourite Thelma Madine which was adorned with no less than 20,000 crystals

For Chantelle and Jim, the bride’s family were able to secure the engagement by paying his family a dowry, which can range between €50k- €120k

‘I was even more confused when your ‘documentary’ about Irish travellers seemed to feature an alien culture that even most Irish travellers didn’t recognise.’

Mr McKenzie added: ‘We suffer from discrimination on a daily basis and our human rights have historically been violated, yet you deem it acceptable to broadcast a misleading ‘documentary’ that has been made not to raise awareness of our plight but for entertainment.

‘We are not a joke, we are human beings and your work of fiction is only strengthening stereotypes and ignorance.’

The couple celebrated their nuptials with a huge party which the whole town was invited to, with the groom saying his number of best men was ‘average’

Revealed: One in five child deaths in east London borough are because the baby’s parents are RELATED 

One in five child deaths in an east London borough are occurring because the baby’s parents are related, a report has found.

A meeting of Redbridge Council’s health and wellbeing board heard 19 per cent of the 200-plus infant deaths between 2008 and 2016 were ‘attributable to consanguineous relationships’ – couples who are at least second cousins or more closely related.

The causes of death have been identified as ‘genetic and congenital abnormalities’, the board was told.

Council health bosses were also told nine per cent of the children who died were from Pakistani families in the borough.

According to the Ilford Recorder, Gladys Xavier, chairwoman of the Child Death Overview Panel (CDOP), told the board ‘educational programmes’ had been rolled out among Asian communities in the area, while schools had been asked to ‘put greater emphasis on genetics’ so pupils understand the complications around interfamily marriages.

The paper reported Cllr Joyce Ryan told the meeting some of the communities were ‘finding it difficult to accept’ the educational programmes.

Other councillors said it was a ‘sensitive area’ and was being handled as such, with the council ‘moving in the right direction’.

Meanwhile, the Recorder said the council’s director of public health, Vicky Hobart, defended the statistics and said the report should not be ‘misunderstood’.

According to the paper, she said: ‘Consanguinity is very common in many cultures and the worry with something like this is that we are dealing with very small numbers.

‘It is important to note trends but we should not read too much into it.’

 

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