The pregnant woman was so desperate not to give birth to a fourth daughter that she consulted a faith healer, who said he knew just what to do: Hammer a two-inch nail into her skull.
The woman, who has not yet been identified by police, showed up at the Lady Reading Hospital in Pakistan this week with extensive bleeding from her skull. She at first told the Peshawar city medical staff she had been “advised” to recite chants and hammer the nail into her own skull to guarantee the gender of her unborn child would be male.
Upon further investigation, doctors became convinced that it would be impossible for such a self-inflicted wound, and determined that someone else had done the hammering.
The doctors did not go to police but rather posted images of the unusual head injury online. Police were alerted to the image and are now searching for the fake “aamil,” or faith healer, who advised the potentially fatal non-remedy.
They are also searching for help identifying the person who led the woman astray.
Peshawar police, who tweeted a photo of the pregnant woman’s skull with the nail intact, say they are using CCTV footage to try to to retrace the woman’s steps from the hospital to find the culprit. She left the facility immediately after the nail was removed. “The process of identifying the victim from the CCTV footage as well as from the computer entry data is underway,” police tweeted. The local police captain said a special team had been assembled to bring justice to the fake healer “who played with the life of an innocent woman and put a nail in her head with [the] false promise of a male child.”
The team is also investigating why medical staff did not immediately alert authorities about the incident. Haider Suleman, neurosurgeon at the hospital, told local media that the woman was bleeding and “in immense pain” when she arrived, but lucid. “She said that a woman in her locality did the same [hammered a nail] and gave birth to a boy even though the ultrasound had shown her unborn child to be a girl,” the doctor told reporters. “They tried to remove it at home, but could not.” Doctors removed it after surgery.
The woman, who had not had an ultrasound to determine her child’s gender, told police that her husband threatened to leave her if she had a fourth daughter.