'Sorcerer' Hammered Nail Into Pregnant Woman's Head To Guarantee a Son

Police are searching for a "faith healer" in Pakistan who hammered a two-inch nail into a pregnant woman's head after he said he could guarantee her child would be a boy.

Police Chief Abbas Ahsan became aware of the incident on Tuesday after images of the woman's x-ray went viral on social media, according to a tweet from Peshawar Police.

"We will soon lay our hands on the sorcerer," Ahsan told AFP.

For many South Asian countries, having a son is preferred to having a daughter. An article published in the Pakistan Journal of Medical Sciences found that the majority of respondents, women living in Peshawar, said they preferred to have a son over a daughter and about 18 percent of respondents did not desire to have any daughters.

Haider Suleman, the resident neurosurgeon at the hospital told the newspaper that the woman was conscious but in severe pain and bleeding. The woman arrived at Lady Reading Hospital after attempting to remove the nail at home using pliers, the local newspaper Dawn reported.

"The family said that she was at home and became unconscious," Suleman told the newspaper.

He also said her family members attempted to remove the nail at home but were unable to, but doctors successfully removed the nail – which missed her brain – from her skull during an operation.

The woman told Suleman that a woman she knew also hammered a nail into her head and gave birth to a boy, even though the ultrasound showed a girl, Dawn reported.

Police are attempting to locate the woman who checked herself out of the hospital a few days after the operation in hopes she could help them locate the healer. They are utilizing CCTV footage and computer entry data to identify the victim.

"The team will also investigate why [the] incident was not reported to [the] police by the treating doctor," Ahsan said in a tweet.

The hospital told Dawn that the woman was three months pregnant and was a mother to three daughters. The hospital said the woman's husband threatened to leave her if the fourth baby was a girl.

Out of fear, the woman met with the faith healer in an attempt to guarantee she would give birth to a boy.

Many women worried about having a son often seek help from "faith healers" who can guarantee the child will be a boy. In Pakistan, these healers are known as pirs and are relatively common in much of rural Pakistan.

The popularity of using alternative medicine in these parts of Pakistan is largely due to the fact that reliable clinics are hard to come by.

"She is three months pregnant and because of her husband's fear she went to the faith healer who gave her taweez, things to recite and the nail," hospital staff told the newspaper.

The woman initially told staff that she hammered the nail into her head herself while at home, but AFP reported that she later admitted to hospital staff that it was the faith healer.

Pregnant woman holding belly
Police in Peshawar, Pakistan are searching for a "faith healer" who hammered a nail into a pregnant woman's head because he said it would guarantee she would have a son. Ian Waldie/Getty Images