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. DERIVATIVES 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.’
I have been blogging daily on this platform for several years now. It is surprising that I have persisted as the world is changing and "microblogging" is now the norm. I blog to amuse myself, make comment on current affairs, externalise some of my creativity, keep notes on things that interest me, learn something new and to surprise myself with things that I discover about this wonderful, and sometimes crazy, world we live in.
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