Where Medicine ‘Fails’: The Evil Eye and Childcare Beliefs among Rural Saraiki Mothers in Punjab, Pakistan


  • Azher Hameed Qamar Department of Behavioural Sciences, National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST), Islamabad, Pakistan http://orcid.org/0000-0002-6137-6533
  • Qurat-ul Ain Govt. Girls High School Saggu Shumail, Kallurkot, Bhakkar, Pakistan


indigenous medicine, evil eye, magico-religious beliefs, childcare beliefs


The study aims to explore the evil eye belief practices among Saraiki mothers in a village in South Punjab, Pakistan. This study unfolds three aspects of the evil eye phenomenon; first, the ‘diagnosis’ of the evil eye that constitute the ineffectiveness of the available modern medicine, second the socio-cultural nexus of folk medical system and unmanageable or unexplained threats, and third the protective and remedial practices that disclose indigenous healthcare culture. Using semi-structured interviews and interpretative phenomenological analysis, five interviews were conducted and analyzed. Findings revealed the perceived failure of the available modern medicine when the evil eye effects are diagnosed. People religiously believe in the evil eye and relate it with the feelings of envy that bring harm to the child by resisting the effects of any medicine and internal immunity. The study concludes jealousy, hatred, and deprivation as primary causes, and religious and folk remedial practices provide a magico-religious shield allowing the effectiveness of other medical interventions. This study brings to light the need for cultural competence of medical professionals while working in indigenous communities where modern medicine cannot work if it is not gradually replacing or working in-line with the folk medical beliefs.

Author Biography

Azher Hameed Qamar, Department of Behavioural Sciences, National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST), Islamabad, Pakistan

Assistant Professor


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Original Research