I didn’t hear about this case until this morning (trigger warning for image).
In a literal application of the sharia law of an eye for an eye, Iran is ready for the first time to blind a man with acid, after he was found guilty of doing the same to a woman who refused to marry him.
Majid Movahedi, 30, is scheduled to be rendered unconscious in Tehran’s judiciary hospital at noon on Saturday while Ameneh Bahrami, his victim, drops acid in both his eyes, her lawyer said.
The first part of the story I heard was about the proposed punishment. I felt sickened upon hearing it – the barbarism of such a punishment (particularly as we know that it’s habitually used to punish Muslim women for their lack of “compliance”) could never be justified. When I heard about the rationale for the punishment a few seconds later, however, I felt conflicted. Movahedi is due to receive this punishment from his female victim, whom he blinded with acid. This decision is taking eye-for-an-eye to a whole new level.
But that’s the rub. I am vehemently opposed to the death penalty, which is arguably the most extreme eye-for-an-eye punishment that exists. Research tells us that the death penalty has neither a general nor a specific deterrent effect, and it offers little cathartic or healing effect to victims’ families. (Its system costs a fortune to run in the US but that issue is unimportant, in the scheme of things.) However, I can’t help but think that the punishment Movahedi is due to receive is warranted and deserved. Because this time, it’s personal. Women in too many places are living in fear of acid attacks for doing something as minor as being seen in public without a male chaperone. Movahedi’s victim, Ameneh Bahrami, suffered such an attack for refusing to marry him; for making a decision about her life and her future that women the world over make every day, without fear of repercussion. But not Ameneh Bahrami; she had to be punished for not doing as she was told.
I defy anyone to tell me that they’ve not had desire for retribution when they’ve been wronged – it’s as human an emotion as joy and sadness. This is retribution for a horrible, vicious, life-changing wrong, and I don’t think I’m going to bother apologising for feeling that it’s deserved. Are there lots of “what ifs”? Certainly. Will it achieve any deterrent effect? Unlikely. But will it help Ameneh Bahrami? Very probably.
That women in Iran might now be given a stronger voice, and that female victims there might be allowed a real say in the judicial process, is a whole other debate (heck, we still don’t know what we’re doing with victims in our “civilised” justice system in the west), but that’s something that won’t be clear for a while. For now, if one woman gets to throw acid in some patriarchal, violent fucker’s face, and in doing so achieves one tiny little bit of liberation for her sisters, then she can have at it as far as I’m concerned.