An eye for an eye?

Ameneh Bahrami is certain that one day she’ll meet someone, fall in love and get married. But when her wedding day comes, her husband won’t see her eyes, and she won’t see her husband. Bahrami is blind, the victim of an acid attack by a spurned suitor.

Embedded video from CNN Video

If she gets her way, her attacker will suffer the same fate. The 31-year-old Iranian is demanding the ancient punishment of “an eye for an eye,” and, in accordance with Islamic law, she wants to blind Majid Movahedi, the man who blinded her.

“I don’t want to blind him for revenge,” Bahrami said in her parents’ Tehran apartment. “I’m doing this to prevent it from happening to someone else.”

Bahrami says she first crossed paths with Movahedi in 2002, when they attended the same university.

She was a 24-year-old electronics student. He was 19. She never noticed him until they shared a class. He sat next to her one day and brushed up against her. Bahrami says she knew it wasn’t an accident.

“I moved away from him,” she said, “but he brushed up against me again.” Watch Bahrami return to the attack scene for the first time »

When Bahrami stood up in class and screamed for him to stop, Movahedi just looked at her in stunned silence. He wouldn’t stay silent for long.

Bahrami said that over the next two years, Movahedi kept harassing her and making threats, even as he asked her to marry him. “He told me he would kill me. He said, ‘You have to say yes.’ ”

On a November afternoon in 2004, Movahedi’s threats turned to violence.

That day at 4:30 p.m., Bahrami left the medical engineering company where she worked. As she walked to the bus stop, she remembers sensing someone behind her.

She turned around and was startled to see Movahedi. A moment later came the agonizing pain. Movahedi had thrown something over her. What felt like fire on her face was acid searing through her skin.

“I was just yelling, ‘I’m burning! I’m burning! For God’s sake, somebody help me!’ ”

The acid seeped into Bahrami’s eyes and streamed down her face and into her mouth. When she covered her face with her hands, streaks of acid ran down her fingers and onto her forearms. Watch how the still-pungent acid destroyed Bahrami’s clothes »

Two weeks after the attack, Movahedi turned himself in to police and confessed in court. He was convicted in 2005 and has been behind bars all along.

Bahrami’s lawyer, Ali Sarrafi, said Movahedi had never shown any remorse. “He says he did it because he loved her,” Sarrafi said.

Attack victims in Iran usually accept “blood money”: a fine in lieu of harsh punishment. With no insurance and mounting medical bills, Bahrami could’ve used the cash, but she said no.

“I told the judge I want an eye for an eye,” Bahrami said. “People like him should be made to feel my suffering.” Watch how the acid destroyed Bahrami’s eyes (includes graphic content) »

Bahrami’s demand has outraged some human rights activists. Criticizing acid-attack victims is almost unheard of, but some Internet bloggers have condemned Bahrami’s decision.

“We cannot condone such cruel punishment,” wrote one blogger. “To willingly inflict the same treatment on a person under court order is a violation of human rights.”

Late last year, an Iranian court gave Bahrami what she asked for. It sentenced Movahedi to be blinded with drops of acid in each eye. This month, the courts rejected Movahedi’s appeal.

Bahrami’s lawyer, Sarrafi, said the sentencing might be carried out in a matter of weeks. He said he doesn’t think Bahrami will change her mind. Neither does Bahrami.

“If I don’t do this and there is another acid attack, I will never forgive myself for as long as I live,” she said.

Bahrami is largely self-sufficient despite not being able to see. She can make a salad, prepare tea and walk up the five flights of stairs that lead to her parents’ apartment.

She has undergone more than a dozen surgeries on her badly scarred face, but she says there are many more to come. She can’t afford to pay for her medical care, so she’s using the Internet to raise money.

She’s lost her big brown eyes, but she likes to smile, especially when she imagines her wedding day.

“I always see myself as someone who can see and sometimes see myself in a beautiful wedding gown, and why not?”

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So what do you guys think; is she “right” or “wrong” in her wishes for his punishment?

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4 thoughts on “An eye for an eye?

  1. WoW! What a tragic story. It pulls at so many emotions — anger for what was done to this young woman, to empathy for what she must live each day remembering and questioning, and uncertainty in what I would do / feel if in her place.

    With all of that said…I do believe there is a place for corporal punishment, but don’t feel it appropriate to take that to the level of ‘conditional’ punishment….because you stole, you lose your hand; because he lied, cut out his tongue. None of us has that power, nor should we. It sounds as though I am splitting hairs because our country has written the laws to punish certain heinous crimes by death, and even allows victims to address the court prior to sentencing. This woman’s country has clearly written the laws to allow an eye for an eye. It is my opinion, however, that latitude more literally perpetuates violence.

    Not sure there is a right or wrong-ness here…but I don’t support her path or reasoning for doing so. It doesn’t prevent this from happening to anyone else.

  2. I guess the main question is: if an eye for and eye was instituted at what point is it wrong? Is it the reciprocation of the transgression OR “who” actually executes?

  3. Good points! I guess when you think about it, the way our judicial system is set up is f’d up, as well! The correctional system doesn’t deter / prevent crime from happening. It isn’t well thought. I can make several arguments, but also counter them for myself….Personally, for me it is more about the perpetuation of violence. There needs to be a way to get beyond that and ‘teach’ without the element of doling out what you’re attempting to prevent. Not sure that is clarity in the point I want to make.

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data, ability to repeat discredited memes, and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Also, be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor even implied. Any irrelevancies you can mention will also be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous :)

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