Here's What Really Happened When Malala Was Shot In The Head

Earlier this week, the happy news broke that Malala Yousafzai had recently gotten married to Asser Malik, an operations manager for the Pakistan Cricket Board, per CNN. Malala announced the union on her Instagram account, asking fans for "prayers" as she and her new hubby "walk together for the journey ahead."

Malala is no stranger to challenges — both good and bad. In fact, she first rose to fame in her native Pakistan when she bravely made headlines as a tween due to her outspoken desire to get an education. During that time, the Taliban had been slowly increasing its influence across the country, and one of its tenets was that women did not belong in schools. As described by Britannica, one of her first viral moments was when she gave a speech in 2008 titled, "How Dare the Taliban Take Away My Basic Right to Education?" 

Following widespread publicity, Malala gave television interviews about her dedication to women's education and even blogged about her experience to give outsiders a glimpse into the life of a young female student in Pakistan. In 2011, she was even awarded Pakistan's first-ever National Youth Peace Prize. However, her notoriety came with a price.

It was less than a year after receiving the peace prize that Malala was the target of a brutal assassination attempt.

Malala knew something was wrong

In 2008, the Taliban's local leader, Mullah Fazlullah, announced that all female education across the Swat Valley region would end within the month or face brutal consequences. After the new edict, Malala's father, Ziauddin Yousafzai, contacted the Pakistani army to get security for his students, per the BBC. Ziauddin was an outspoken activist and actually ran the school that Malala attended. The Pakistani army agreed to protect the students, and all seemed well — until it wasn't.

On October 9, 2012, Malala was returning home on the bus after a long day of exams at school. Malala said that during the journey, she could tell that something was off because the roads were eerily empty. "I asked [my friend], 'Why is there no-one here? Can you see it's not like it usually is?'" Malala recalled of the fateful day.

Moments later, two college-aged men flagged down the bus before boarding and asking which of the 20 girls on board was Malala. Though no one answered, the glances of the scared teenagers gave Malala's identity away. One of the two men then took out a Colt 45 and shot at her three times. According to ABC News, one of the bullets tore through her forehead and entered her shoulder. 

The men then fled, and the race to save Malala's life began.

Malala almost didn't make it

General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani decided that the young teen needed to be airlifted to a military hospital in Peshawar if she had any hope of living. According to ABC News, this was actually a very unusual move, but General Kayani understood the symbolic nature of Malala's survival.

Once at the hospital, doctors realized that the bullet had shattered part of Malala's skull bone and her brain had started to swell. As a result, surgeons had to remove a portion of her skull — a risky procedure that could have resulted in paralysis or worse. 

Though the surgery was successful, Malala's recovery was far from over. The regional hospital was a primitive facility, with outdated instruments and a single sink that didn't even work. Doctors knew she had to get to a better facility, but didn't know if she was stable enough to be moved. 

The solution was for the best doctors from the Punjab capital of Rawalpindi to make a midnight dash to Peshawar to stabilize her worsening condition. However, staff soon became worried about a different threat: attacks from the Taliban who wanted to complete Malala's assassination. 

She was thus transferred to Birmingham in the U.K., where she has remained and flourished since the attack. "She is probably one of the bravest girls on the planet," one of her doctors has since said. 

In light of her new marriage, it looks like she may now be one of the happiest as well!