A 3-year-old girl from Kolkata, India, has died after her mother's boss reportedly stuck seven needles inside her, attempting to use her as a voodoo doll.
The girl, who remains unnamed, was rushed to the hospital July 15 in critical condition, according to India Today. Doctors found seven needles inside her body as well as other injuries indicating that she had been sexually abused.
"There are as many as seven needles forced into the child's body," the hospital noted in its initial comments of her condition. "The needles could not be taken out as it may cause further damage to her body. She is kept under observation."
Some needles pierced her organs and doctors were afraid to cause even more damage.
The mother appeared unaware of her child's condition and initially took the girl to the doctor because she had a fever. When doctors saw the extent of the girl's injuries, they called the police. The girl was then moved to a larger regional hospital for treatment.
A police investigation found that the mother's employer, Sanatan Thakur, used the girl to practice black magic. Thakur, a former member of India's paramilitary Home Guard, who is in his mid-50s, employed the mother as a domestic worker.
Injuries in the girl's genital area indicate Thakur may have used the needles as a form of sexual abuse as well.
On July 18, doctors successfully removed all seven needles and the girl was kept under close observation. On July 21, she died from infections caused by the needles.
"The child had a successful surgery and was recuperating at the ICU," a senior doctor at the hospital told the Hindustan Times. "She was under observation for 48 hours. But it seems the trauma was too much for her to bear. She could have developed some lung infection. But we will have to wait for the post mortem which will be conducted before the body is handed over to her family."
Thakur has been charged under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses Act. He has yet to be found and is considered to be on the run.
Voodoo is a religion that began in West Africa and spread to the Americas and the Caribbean, notes HuffPost. It is a misconception that those who practice the religion stick pins into dolls to harm another person. Rather, dolls are usually hung from trees to send messages to deceased loved ones.