Ameneh Bahrami, blinded seven years ago by a man she refused to marry, pardoned her attacker today. On Sunday July 31st, in a hospital in Tehran, she was present as a doctor prepared to drop poison into the attackers eyes, blinding the assailant as he had blinded Bahrami. But, as he wept on his knees, Bahrami opted not to follow through with the procedure at the last minute.
In this case, the Iranian court had invoked the ‘qisas’ stature, or eye-for-an-eye interpretation of Shari’a law, thereby, treating Bahrami and her male attacker as equals before the judge. This rare legal treatment of men and women as equals was ostensibly a result of the international attention that Bahrami had received at the time.
According to Iran’s legal system, women are explicitly ascribed half the worth of a man in court. Their testimony in court, and their life, counts for half that of a man. Thus, the initial ruling, unprecedented in the IRI, came as a shock and was received with mixed feelings among the international community. On the one hand, some perceived the ruling to be a rare improvement to the treatment of women under the law, while others rebuked the ruling as barbaric. Amnesty international criticized the verdict as a cruel punishment amounting to torture and said that Iran should “review its penal code.”
In March 2009 Bahrami said she was “not doing this out of revenge, but rather so that the suffering [she] went through is not repeated.” Since the ruling, several acid attacks in Iran have made international news, include an attack last week so brutal that the woman died.