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Pregnant woman hammers nail into her head to have a son after being convinced by a ‘healer’

By Francesca Johnson

Feb 10, 2022

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In a case of fortune prediction gone terribly wrong, Capital City Police Peshawar, Pakistan, are currently searching for a proclaimed healer who is accused of convincing a pregnant woman to hammer a two-inch nail into her head. Per local news reports, the unnamed Pakistani woman embedded the nail into her skull after the healer told her that doing so would result in her having a son. Yikes.

The spine-chilling story goes something like this: a woman showed up at a local hospital in Pakistan with a two-inch nail (five centimetres) implanted deep into her skull. According to local outlet Dawn, she had three daughters and was desperately hoping for her current pregnancy to give her a son as she was afraid her husband would leave if she had another girl. Approaching an unlicensed religious healer, she was advised by him to hammer in a nail into her skull  in order for her to guarantee she’d be giving birth to a son.

The extreme lengths the woman went to in order to pursue having a male child become more understandable considering the preference of male children in Asia. Several populations use common practises such as dowries and many value the notion of male heirs continuing on the family legacy.

Hospital staff who attended to the woman at the Lady Reading Hospital told Dawn, “She is three months pregnant, and because of her husband’s fear, she went to the faith healer.” The healer in question allegedly gave the woman ‘taweez’ (an amulet for good luck in common South Asia), as well as “things to recite, and the nail.” “The victim then returned home and hammered the nail in her head,” the hospital staff member continued. The woman had initially told them that she hammered it in herself, however she later revealed that the healer she went to had carried out the act.

According to the local publication, family members of the woman heard her screaming in pain and made attempts to remove the nail but were unsuccessful. She also tried to take the nail out herself with pliers. Her family eventually took her to hospital to be treated.

Haider Suleman Khan, the resident neurosurgeon at Lady Reading, also spoke to Dawn and shared that “doctors successfully removed the nail in an operation” after the woman arrived at the hospital. “She said that a woman in her locality did the same and gave birth to a boy even though the ultrasound had shown her unborn child to be a girl,” Khan continued.

An X-ray of the victim’s skull showed that the nail had pierced the top of her forehead but missed her brain miraculously. Khan stated that a hammer or another heavy object must’ve been used to knock it in, according to The Telegraph. He also shared with AFP that the woman was “fully conscious” during the procedure but was in immense pain.”

Now Pakistani police are on the lookout for the charlatan doc. While investigations are ongoing as of now, they are looking for the healer to bring him in for questioning. Covering the story, the BBC noted that the healer’s name still remains unknown and the woman left the hospital soon after the nail was removed without talking to law enforcement.

Insider reported that police are also inspecting CCTV footage in order to ascertain the woman’s identity.

In a tweet posted on Tuesday 8 February, Peshawar police chief Abbas Ahsan claimed that a special task force had been formed to investigate the incident. “The team will also investigate why the incident was not reported to police by the treating doctor,” Ahsan wrote.

The Los Angeles Times also investigated the situation and found that ‘pirs’ (faith healers) are fairly common in Pakistan while police crackdowns on them are rare. However, the usual advice of offering an assortment of herbs to try, advising people to pray for their ailments and money troubles is a far cry from telling someone to hammer a nail into their head.

Among several other translated tweets posted by Capital City Police Peshawar, an update posted today, Thursday 10 February, stated, “The woman’s mental balance does not seem to be right. She is undergoing a medical examination. The woman’s husband has also been included in the investigation.”