She has no one, but ...
JALALABAD, Afghanistan — It is doubly miraculous that the young woman named Gul Meena is alive. After she was struck by an ax 15 times, slashing her head and face so deeply that it exposed her brain, she held on long enough to reach medical care and then, despite the limitations of what the doctors could do, clung to life.
“We had no hope she would survive,” said Dr. Zamiruddin, a neurosurgeon at the Nangarhar Regional Medical Center in the eastern city of Jalalabad who, like many Afghans, uses only one name. After she was brought in, he worked for more than six hours in the hospital’s rudimentary operating theater, gently reinserting her brain and stitching her many wounds.
For weeks afterward, she was often unconscious, always uncommunicative and, but for the hospital staff, utterly alone, with no family members to care for her. That is because, if the accounts from her home province are true, she is an adulterer: though already married, she ran away with another man, moving south until her family caught up with them.
Locals say that the man who wielded the ax against her, and also killed the man with her, was most likely her brother.
That she reached a hospital and received care at all is the second part of the miracle: the villagers, doctors and nurses who helped her were bucking a deeply ingrained tradition that often demands death for women who dishonor their families.