Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Revenge Vs. Justice

I saw this article on Jezebel where an Iranian woman was attacked with acid by a man who was angry that she had rejected him. He stalked and threatened her outside of her job, then one day ambushed her and dumped a bucket of sulphuric acid over her head. His punishment, as decided by the court in Iran, is to have five drops of the acid dropped in each of his eyes. From the full article:

TEHRAN -- Ameneh Bahrami once enjoyed photography and mountain vistas. Her work for a medical equipment company gave her financial independence. Several men had asked for her hand in marriage, but the hazel-eyed electrical technician had refused them all. "I wanted to get married, but only to the man I really loved," she said.

Four years ago, a spurned suitor poured a bucket of sulfuric acid over her head, leaving her blind and disfigured.

Late last month, an Iranian court ordered that five drops of the same chemical be placed in each of her attacker's eyes, acceding to Bahrami's demand that he be punished according to a principle in Islamic jurisprudence that allows a victim to seek retribution for a crime. The sentence has not yet been carried out.

This is fascinating on so many levels. One argument is that this is cruel and barbaric punishment; more revenge than justice. Blinding this man will not deter other men from doing the same thing to other people. However, imprisoning him wouldn't deter other people either. I feel we also have to take the context of the culture into consideration; we cannot judge everything through an American lens. Iran has been notorious for not following up on crimes against women, especially horrific crimes like what happened to Bahrami. Some argue that it is good that they are even punishing him at all.

Honestly, a big part of me feels that he has ruined her life and livelihood and he deserves what his punishment is. The other part of me knows that some people will argue about where the line will be drawn. Of course this method couldn't be applied to everyone, I am treating this on a very individual level. If this means of revenge-punishment were possible for all offenders, things would get out of hand very quickly. Courts would have to ensure the accused party is actually guilty, none of that gray area business like here in the United States. The attacker in this story admitted his guilt, so that isn't an issue here.

Also, Americans that are horrified by this punishment but support the death penalty are hypocrites. We are the only westernized nation that still uses the death penalty. It is crushing to think of how many innocent people have been put to death in this country. The system is especially skewed against poor people, many of them black or hispanic, illiterate, you name it who have been coerced or tricked by the system. This retribution style punishment could never work on a large scale in the United States, but I do not disagree with it for this particular case. What do you think about this story?

7 jewels of thought:

Anonymous said...

No matter how many times I read stories like these, I am still shocked into a state of speechlessness. I have no words to describe my horror.

BoBo said...

I know what you mean...this article was surprisingly pretty lengthy. Most articles do an overview of what happened and that's it. Here, the victim told the whole story and I just cannot fathom the pain she has endured.

Chanel said...

I've heard stories like this before. There is actually an activist group that helps women recover from injuries and abuse such as this, so at least there's that!

Anonymous said...

I saw a special mutli-media feature about this at nytimes.com just a few days ago and it was horrific seeing and hearing several ladies testimonials. Just another version of female circumcision if you follow me. I agree that the punishment is also barbaric, and that it's also so difficult to balance cultural, religion, and perception. I do feel however that people shouldn't be allowed to just run chaotically through life treating people any kind of way... especially sexism crimes. (excuse spellings)

BoBo said...

Chanel: I am glad they have support groups for this kind of thing. If you read the article, the former Iranian government was paying for her treatment in Spain then when the new president took over they stopped paying for her and she was evicted and had to live in a halfway house, still blind.

Marlo: I agree with everything you said. This wouldn't work in the USA, but if in Iran it is common to use retribution from religious law then it is only fair to uphold it when something like this happens to a woman.

Alicia/InstantVintage said...

Great post. Honestly, I agree with this method of punishment. Excuse the pun, but it's very "eye for an eye" and he totally deserves what's coming.

ChocolateOrchid said...

Wow! I have to say that I am one of those surprised that he's even being punished for his crime against a woman (noting Iran's history w/crimes against women). My heart goes out to her. Yes, he has ruined her life and although I do feel that his punishment is barbaric I also strongly feel that he deserves it.
I feel sad for Ameneh.

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