An Iranian court, going by Islamic laws, has sentenced a young acid thrower to be blinded.
A three-judge panel ruled unanimously on November 26 that Majid, 27, be blinded with acid. He must also pay compensation for the horrific injuries suffered by Ameneh Bahrami, a girl he had pursued in vain.
AdvertisementMajid, admitted throwing acid in her face in November 2004, blinding and disfiguring Bahrami. The girl refused to accept the "blood-money" offered and insisted he undergo a similar ordeal.
"I am not willing to get blood money from the defendant, who is still thinking about destroying me and wants to take my eyes out," she told the court. "How could he pretend to be in love? If they let this guy go free, he will definitely kill me."
She told a Tehran Provincial Court that she wanted everyone to realize perpetrators of such ghastly crimes could not get away with it.
Majid said he was still willing to marry Bahrami, but she contemptuously spurned the offer.
However, she did not ask for his face to be disfigured, as hers had been.
"Of course, only blind him and take his eyes, because I cannot behave the way he did and ask for acid to be thrown in his face," she said. "Because that would be [a] savage, barbaric act. Only take away his sight so that his eyes will become like mine. I am not saying this from a selfish motive. This is what society demands."
Bahrami recounted during the trial that Majid's mother had repeatedly tried to arrange a marriage between the two after Majid met Bahrami at university.
But she was not inclined. She didn't even know who the suitor was. It was her friends who told her he was a man who had once harassed her in class, leading to an argument between them.
But he refused to accept her rejection, she said, going to her workplace and threatening her.
Finally, she lied and told him she had married someone else and that "it would be better all around if he would leave [her] alone."
She told the court that she reported the conversation to police, saying he had threatened her with "burning for the rest of my life", but they said they could not act until a crime had been committed.
Two days later, on November 2, 2004, as she was walking home from work, she became aware of a man following her. She slowed, then stopped to let him pass.
"When the person came close, I realized that it was Majid," she said. "Everything happened in a second. He was holding a red container in his hand. He looked into my eyes for a second and threw the contents of the red container into my face."
Bahrami knew exactly what was happening, she said.
"At that moment, I saw in my mind the face of two sisters who years ago had the same thing happen to them. I thought, 'Oh, my God - acid.'"
Passers-by tried to wash the acid off Bahrami, then took her to Labafinejad Hospital.
"They did everything possible for me," she said of the doctors and nurses there.
Then, one day, they asked her to sign papers allowing them to operate on her.
"I said, 'Do you want to take my eyes out?' The doctor cried and left."
They did want to remove her eyes surgically, she learned, for fear they would become infected, potentially leading to a fatal infection of her brain.
But she refused to allow it, both because she was not sure she could handle it psychologically, and because she thought her death would be easier for her family to bear.
"If I had died, my family would probably be sad for a year and mourn my death, and then they would get used to it," she told the court. "But now every day they look at me and see that I am slowly wasting away."
Doctors say there is no chance Bahrami will recover her vision, despite repeated operations, including medical care in Spain partially paid for by Iran's reformist former president, Mohammed Khatami, who was in power when the attack took place, CNN reports.
Attacking women and girls by throwing acid in their faces is sufficiently common in countries such as Bangladesh and Cambodia that groups have been formed to fight it.
Human rights organizations have condemned the practice in Afghanistan and Pakistan. It is not clear how often such attacks take place in Iran.
Iran and Saudi Arabia are the only countries that consider eye-gouging to be a legitimate judicial punishment, Human Rights Watch has said.
Only last week in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh acid attack on two young college girls provoked a huge uproar.
The two girls attacked, Swapnalika and Pranitha, were both final year students of B Tech in the Kakatiya Institute of Technology and Sciences in Warangal. The condition of Swapnalika is still critical. They were returning from the college on a two-wheeler, when three boys, riding another bike, threw acid on them.
Swapnalika was the intended victim, but the pillion-rider too received some burns.
The case took a more controversial turn when the police reported killing the three three young men arrested. "We fired on them in self-defence when we were attacked," the police claimed.
Warangal District Superintendent of Police V C Sajjanar said a team had taken the three youths to a place near Mamnoor hillock, on the outskirts of Warangal, where they had reportedly hidden the material used to target the two engineering students.
The three had been produced before the media earlier when Srinivas Rao, 23, a businessman's son and college dropout, boasted: "We had practised our aim for 15 days on a doll in the Mamunur forests (before the acid attack)." He also declared, unrepentantly, "If she could not become mine, no one else should get her."