Ameneh Bahrami was once a beautiful Iranian woman. Now, even after 17 surgeries, she is still completely blind and disfigured with rivulets of skin running down her cheeks. She came to be this way after a bucket of acid was poured on her head by a spurned admirer who had stalked her for two years.
Now, she is also denied justice by the Iranian justice system because there, a woman is not equal to a man, but is only worth half a man.
According to Nicholas D. Kristof of the New York Times, acid attacks are at an all-time high in Pakistan and increasing every year. In India, the number of acid attacks has been rising, with more than 68 reported incidents in the state of Karnataka since 1999.
Bahrami is asking the Iranian court for retribution, to sentence his attacker to be blinded by acid in both eyes. The court acquiesced - but only to blinding one eye, because of the assumption that a woman is only worth half as much as a man.
The sentence would have been carried out today, May 14, 2011, but it was put on hold indefinitely, according to Iranian media.
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Bahrami said she did not ask for this law for revenge but also so that no other woman will have to go through this. It is to set an example, reported Spanish newspaper ABC.
Women in Iran are subject to many forms of violence - in their homes, in the street and at the hands of the government, which the authorities have a duty firstly to prevent and then to provide redress for victims, said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Director of Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa Programme.
But Tehran's deputy public prosecutor, Mahmoud Salarkia, defended the punishment. If this sentence is properly publicized in the media, it will stop the repetition of such incidents, he said. Awareness of the punishment has a huge deterrent effect in stopping social crimes.
In 2002, Bangladesh introduced the death penalty as a punishment for throwing acid and laws strictly controlling the sales of acids. Under Pakistan law, the perpetrator may suffer the same fate as the victim by having drops of acid placed in his eyes. However, the law is not binding and is rarely enforced. Iran has this same law.
But perhaps they should first address the law that makes a woman worth half a man.