This morning, Skepchick commenter QuestioningAuthority sent us this article from CNN, reporting that an Iranian man who blinded a woman with acid has been sentenced to a similar fate as his victim: he’ll be blinded, and his eyes removed. In his note to us, QA asked, “Appropriate or not? Justice or not?”
I’d like to here what you all think. In the meantime, here’s what I think.
For far too long, marring and disabling women with acid has been a gut-churning trend in south Asia and the Middle East, particularly in fundamentalist communities with a long history of hatred against women. Women who dare to show more than a strip of skin, who think for themselves, or who desire to educate themselves, are all punished, usually by rogue vigilantes committed to protecting their backwards, ignorant way of life.
All too often, the men who abuse women in these societies go unpunished, so a story like this may be seen as a step forward â€“ a man receiving exactly what he deserves, at last. The victim in this case clearly feels as though this is the correct punishment â€“ she says that she didn’t ask that her assailant be physically scarred with acid as she was, because that would be barbaric. She only wants his eyes removed.
Rarely is it so clear to me how relative traits like “barbarism” can be. To me, the attacker was barbaric, and the courts will be barbaric as well when they exact their revenge. To a lesser extent, the victim’s mother was barbaric, for pushing the victim and her attacker toward an arranged marriage without the victim’s consent. And what of those among the man’s family, and friends, and teachers, who raised him to believe that a woman is a piece of property to request or to take? What of the Iranian government officials, whose constitution states a murdered woman is literally worth half a murdered man when charging the murderer? Whose constitution demands a woman leaving the house without a hejab be lashed? Whose constitution bans women from higher office? Will any of that change with this decision?
Will blinding one man who is the product of this society benefit anyone at all?