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An eye for an eye

Meet Ameneh Bahrami.

Four years ago, a spurned suitor poured a bucket of sulfuric acid over her head, leaving her blind and disfigured.
Ms. Bahrami asked that her attacker be given a punishment fitting the crime. How did the court decide?
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.

The implementation of corporal punishments allowed under Islamic law, including lashing, amputation and stoning, has often provoked controversy in Iran, where many people have decried such sentences as barbaric.

Courts usually order families of the accused to pay "blood money" for the crimes. But Bahrami insisted on the punishment. She had several meetings with the head of Iran's judiciary, Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi, who tends to favor less strict interpretations of Islamic law.

"Shahroudi really pressed me to demand blood money instead of retribution. He explained that such a sentence would cause lots of bad publicity for Iran. But I refused," she said.

One of my favorite bloggers, Ann Althouse writes-

Surely, Shahroudi must know that Iran gets bad publicity for these "blood money" punishments -- which look more like our tort remedies. It's a crime. Put that man in prison for a long, long time if you want our respect.
Was the ruling in Iran barbaric or just?


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Comments (11)

Both.... (Below threshold)


Ditto... (Below threshold)


Agreed, both.... (Below threshold)
Ken Hahn:

Agreed, both.

Under a Christian ethic, it... (Below threshold)

Under a Christian ethic, it is barbaric.

Under a Muslim ethic, it appears to be just. And it is probably a rare triumph for a woman to be able to persuade an Islamic court to agree with her, especially over the objections of an Ayatollah.

This story should remind us of the vast (though hopefully not irreconcilable) differences between the West and the Middle East.

"An eye for an eye": straig... (Below threshold)

"An eye for an eye": straight out of the Old Testament. Barbaric? Yes, but I have a gut level approval for this punishment. Sort of an "equal time for sinners" moment!!

Obviously it's wrong, but c... (Below threshold)

Obviously it's wrong, but can you think of anyone more deserving.

Pour it over his junk instead so he can still take care of himself, but is removed from the gene pool.

It is almost just... The co... (Below threshold)
Jeff Blogworthy:

It is almost just... The court showed mercy by not disfiguring him as well.

I suppose Western justice is superior. Psychoanalyze his bitter childhood and condemn him to six months counseling.

If I looked at it from a pu... (Below threshold)

If I looked at it from a purely Judeo-Christian point of view, I would oppose it. However, as many liberals here believe that we must respect the customs and laws of other countries (who are considered to be far more superior than those under the US Constitution..As per the Arlen Spector preference of using Scottish Law versus US Law.), this is a far superior penalty.

Blood Money is far too lax a punishment. The guilty party only loses money, which is easily replaceable, and there is little reason to think the party will be deterred from committing another offense. This as****e would continue to abuse, main and even kill other women. Too many times, women in Islamic countries are victimized twice; once by their attackers and again by the judicial system, which lets men off the hook far too easily. Sometimes, the women are even punished by the courts for supposedly 'inviting' the attacks. Once the public hears that the attacker will actually suffer for his crimes, rather than lose a little money, the instances of this kind of abuse will decrease.

I applaud the victim's courage of insisting of the application of the law as written. The Islamic court should be ashamed that it tried to let the criminal off easy, and thus victimize the woman a second time.

It's both, but sometimes to... (Below threshold)

It's both, but sometimes to be just, you must be barbaric. Lethal injection, blood money, reduced sentences, counseling, "management" training (anger, alcohol, sex, whatever), are all far too easy to make people forget that what they did was so horrible. I'd say they should blind one of the guy's eyes, then make him act as a "companion" for this woman. Make him take care of her and lead her around for the rest of her life. That would be justice.

From a straight-logic, no-c... (Below threshold)

From a straight-logic, no-compassion, no-exceptions viewpoint: Neither.

He ruined her face, eyesight (in one eye), and life. However, if she is maimed and he is totally blind, then there are 2 individuals that must be supported by family or the state. [Illogical resolution for the state.]

Would be better if he were disfigured, lose only one eye, and be required to take care of her -- until she is married or (if she never marries) for the rest of her life. If she never marries and wants a child (or children), then he should also be required to "produce" one with her, provide for the child, and include the child(ren) in his will. [NO compassion for non-compassionate.]

"Political correctness" and "humane" treatment for those who are inhumane encourages criminals to commit more crimes. If the punishments are harsh, there will be no repeat (or copycat) offenders. [NO Exceptions for those injuring others.]

Just or not, it was her rig... (Below threshold)

Just or not, it was her right to demand it under her country's laws. If it makes her country rethink their laws, so much the better.

There are several kinds of justice. The most just outcome possible would be to undo all effects of the initial incident; however, without a time machine, mind-reading cops, or Divine intervention, that's not going to happen. So there are additional forms of justice. Retribution: what was done to me shall be done to you. Restitution: You pay me for what you did to me. Punitive restitution: ...and a lot more, so you'll think twice before doing it again. Incarceration: you will be separated from the public so they will be safe from you. And so on.

One last thing: if I remember right, the intent of "an eye for an eye" was to limit the retribution to the scope of the original crime, to prevent making "the whole world blind."






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