Woman Blinded with Acid Talks to Radio Farda: “I don’t want the same act to be repeated”May 13, 2011
The Radio Farda program The Sixth Hour has interviewed Ameneh Bahrami in the Persian language today, 18 hours before she is scheduled to blind her perpetrator with acid as qesas (retribution) punishment in Iran.
Maria Rashidi, the chair of the Society for Women’s Rights (located in Sweden) was also on the radio program and briefly described her experience of being burned with acid 14 years ago on the orders of her ex-husband Rahman who fled and was never charged following the incident. Maria Rashidi told Radio Farda that she does not see retribution as the solution, even though she has had to undergo 79 plastic surgical operations so far to restore her face.
The following is an English translation summary of the main points in the Radio Farda program with Ameneh and Maria.
Ameneh Bahrami: I have made efforts for the last six years to reach this solution [retribution]. I am receiving the results of the pain I endured, so I am happy about that. I don’t feel I am causing the same pain to another human. Majid Movahedi is not a human like me. He is an animal in the skin of a human.
Maria Rashidi: I completely empathize with Ameneh’s pain and suffering, because I have experienced the same. I have also undergone many surgeries. Part of my nose has been maimed. Despite this, I have a different viewpoint.
Reporter: You were never in the same position as Ameneh. Do you think if you were, you would still think the same way if you had the chance to take revenge on the perpetrator?
Maria Rashidi: In the initial years following the incident, I experienced similar feelings of anger. In the first year, I was determined to find him, even though we have two children together, and take revenge on him. As time passed, I thought that if they had managed to capture him and splash acid onto his face, how would my and the world’s problems go away, how would the [retribution] cure my pain, and what psychological impact would it have on me in the future?
Ameneh Bahrami: I am Maria’s friend and I know her well. Her situation is different than mine. She lives [outside the country] and the [Swedish] government offers her good support. Her husband had not splashed the acid himself; he had gotten someone else to do it, then her husband fled. Maria was not in Iran. I am in Iran. I don’t want to take revenge, but she wanted to take revenge in the first years [following the incident]. The location where the incident occurred [for me] is very important. [Sweden] and Iran are completely different countries. I would like the charge to be decreased or dropped. But I want to do something so the same act is not repeated. I don’t want to take revenge, I want to punish.
Reporter: What is the difference between revenge and punishment?
Ameneh Bahrami: Sweden and Iran are two completely different countries. Sweden has supported Maria. Iran has not supported me, other than the initial money that Mr. Khatami and Mr. Ahmadinejad had given me. That money lasted me for the first year. After that, the money was cut off. I have no future. I am the one who has to pay for my own expenses. The Iranian government has no laws set in place that support me. The Iranian government has left me alone.
Reporter: How do you correlate the lack of support of the government to the qesas (retribution) sentence?
Ameneh Bahrami: When someone in Iran is hurt or damaged, he or she is supposed to pay the costs, including surgery. Someone who has been damaged is unable to work everyday to afford the medical costs. In Sweden, the perpetrator pays the costs and is sent to prison. Iran is not like this.
Reporter: So, because the Iranian government has not supported you, you think that the best form of punishment is retribution?
Ameneh Bahrami: No, the issue is not that I was not supported [by the government]. The problem is I know that those who are burned, get sick, and damaged, like me, do not receive Iran’s support. I don’t want the same act to be repeated.
Reporter: So, by doing this, you hope to prevent further similar incidents?
Ameneh Bahrami: Yes.
Reporter: If retribution was not an option, what sentence would be considered justice?
Amaneh Bahrami: I would have liked if Majid could be imprisoned for life and work in prison to pay for my expenses that no one else is willing to pay for. Unfortunately, In Iran, [criminals] are eligible for release, [for example] after five years. But we don’t have this type of sentencing [life imprisonment with no parole] in Iran.
Reporter: If this type of sentencing did exist in Iran, would you opt for it rather than retribution?
Amaneh Bahrami: Yes.
Maria Rashidi: I see the Iranian government as guilty for making Ameneh perform the retribution act…Retribution is not the solution…The Iranian government must help Amaneh.
Amaneh Bahrami: I wanted to drop the acid in his eyes myself…but I don’t think I can. There will be a doctor on standby to perform it.
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