England’s King Henry VIII famously went through six wives on his way to finding one that would deliver a male heir for the throne. Poor Catherine of Aragon was a political marriage that didn’t quite take, although her daughter Mary would survive to give Ann Boleyn’s Elizabeth a hard time. Elizabeth I was their only issue and would go on to make any mother proud, but Ann lost three subsequent pregnancies to miscarriage, and her head soon followed. Jane Seymour gave birth to the heir Henry craved, but lost her life doing so. Ann of Cleves probably got the best of the bargain when Henry – by this time morbidly obese and oozing – declared he liked her not, and had the marriage annulled. Catherine Howard lost her heart to another man, and her head followed. Catherine Parr survived the king’s fatal attractions chiefly by outliving him – he died two and half years after their marriage.
An understanding of modern genetics and a man’s contribution to the gender of his offspring could have saved Henry’s ladies a good deal of trouble and no small amount of blood, but that was nearly 500 years ago, and the science had not yet arrived at its current destination.
It looks like it hasn’t quite filtered out to the villages of Afghanistan yet, either:
A woman in north-eastern Afghanistan has been arrested for allegedly strangling her daughter-in-law for giving birth to a third daughter.
The murdered woman’s husband, a member of a local militia, is also suspected of involvement but he has since fled.
The murder took place two days ago in Kunduz province. The baby girl, who is now two months old, was not hurt.
The birth of a boy is usually a cause for celebration in Afghanistan but girls are generally seen as a burden.
Some women in Afghanistan are abused if they fail to give birth to boys. And this is just the latest in a series of high-profile crimes against women in the country.
It isn’t so much that they are untutored savages, although they are that of course. It’s that they just don’t seem to care to be anything but.