Wednesday, 3 August 2011


“And thine eye shall not pity; but life shall go for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.” – King James Bible, Deuteronomy 19:21

In the news earlier this week was the case of Ameneh Bahrami, an Iranian woman who was blinded in both eyes and disfigured after having acid hurled in her face by Majid Movahedi, a university classmate after she repeatedly spurned his offer of marriage. The event occurred in 2004 and a protracted court case began as an Iranian court considered the evidence and deliberated on the punishment according to the Sharia (Islamic Law) system of Qisas (“eye for an eye” retribution). Iran’s judiciary had finally given the green light to the meting out of retributive punishment for Mohavedi through the pouring of acid into his eyes last Sunday. This would have been the first blinding of a convict in the country, but human rights groups across the world called on Bahrami, who had asked for “eye for an eye” justice in court, to pardon him.

Majid Movahedi, now 30 years old, had been taken to Tehran’s judiciary hospital to be blinded with acid after being rendered unconscious, but his victim spared him at the last minute. The 34-year-old Bahrami decided to pardon him as Sharia law not only allows for qisas, it also advises for clemency to be considered, especially before and during the holy month of Ramadan, which started on Monday in Iran. The woman was quoted as saying that she felt good about showing the perpetrator mercy, but asked for financial compensation instead of blinding Movahedi, an option she had previously refused to consider.

Bahrami conceded that the international focus on the case was a factor she considered in pardoning her attacker. This ensued after the highly publicised case decision in November 2008, when a criminal court in Tehran ordered retribution on Movahedi after he admitted throwing acid at Bahrami, and entitled her to blind him with acid. In the final chapter of this horrific story, Bahrami has said: “It is best to pardon when you are in a position of power.” The perpetrator sobbed when he heard the news of his pardon and said Bahrami was “very generous”.

In reaction to the news, Amnesty International, which had urged Bahrami to pardon Movahedi, called on Iran to review its penal code. Amnesty representatives said: “…Deliberate blinding inflicted by a medical expert is a cruel punishment which amounts to torture, which is prohibited under international law. The Iranian authorities should review the penal code as a matter of urgency to ensure those who cause intentional serious physical harm, like acid attacks, receive an appropriate punishment – but that must never be a penalty which in itself constitutes torture.”

Bahrami has an electronics degree and worked in a medical engineering company before the attack. She moved to Spain with the help of the Iranian government where she has undergone a series of unsuccessful operations. She briefly recovered half the vision in her right eye in 2007 but an infection blinded her again. Bahrami has recently published a book in Germany, “Eye for an Eye”, based on her personal life and her suffering since she was blinded.

Tehran Prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dowlatabadi said Mohavedi would remain in gaol until a court decided on the alternative punishment or settle on compensation. The unfortunate thing is that there have been several other acid attacks on women in Iran. Last week in a copy-cat attack, a young woman died after a man poured acid on her face for rejecting his marriage proposal. The attacker remains free.

retribution |ˌretrəˈbyo͞oSHən| noun
Punishment that is considered to be morally right and fully deserved: Settlers drove the Navajo out of Arizona in retribution for their raids.
retributive |riˈtribyətiv|adjective,
retributory |riˈtribyəˌtôrē|adjective
ORIGIN: Late Middle English (also in the sense ‘recompense for merit or a service’): From late Latin retributio(n-), from retribut- ‘assigned again,’ from the verb retribuere, from re- ‘back’ + tribuere ‘assign.’


  1. You know what is most offensive about this horrible case? Not that some vicious moron planned to have acid available; not that he destroyed her skin, eyes and face; not that the police finally charged a man for destroying the life of a woman; and certainly not that she saved him from retributive punishment.

    What is horrifying is that a man can find it totally appropriate to kill or main a woman after she did nothing more than spurn his (presumably) romantic and love-filled offer of marriage.

  2. How terrible!!!! Imagine having to say yes if someone proposed because if you dont you would have acid poured on you.... Its so sad and so unfair!!!
    Still I'm glad she pardoned the creep. Shows she could rise above him......

  3. This is horrible...
    Acid attacks just for refusing?How cruel can things get...
    Oh She has a big heart to pardon him, but then other attackers should take a lesson, because not every woman can be expected to be generous under such attacks...

  4. This really disgusted me when I saw the news story. It is a barbaric series fo events form start to finish. While I have some sympathy for the woman, it seems that she relented from exacting the retributory punishment only because of public opinion in the West and because she could get money instead.
    The ineffectiveness of exemplary punishment as a deterrent is illustrated byt he second example you quote where the woman died. A cultural shift is needed and that is very hard to achieve.

  5. And still it goes on, 2/12/11: