Thursday, October 22, 2015

Amazing Women of Color

[TRIGGER WARNING: ACID ATTACKS, GORE]

This is such an amazing story, it should be a movie. Like why isn't it a movie already.

It's about a woman who was a victim of an acid attack--an increasingly common form of "revenge" by grossly entitled men in the middle east, India, and some African and Asian nations. There are photos showing her face and the faces of other victims (including children). If you're triggered by things like disfigurement and gore, then I do not recommend clicking on the following link unless you've disabled images:

Ameneh Bahrami: was I right to pardon the man who blinded me with acid?

This woman was blinded and disfigured because a man couldn't deal with rejection. She refused to marry him several times, so he decided to ruin her life.

Movahedi encountered Bahrami in a workshop at the university. “One day his mother called and said my son wants you,” Bahrami recalled. “I didn’t even know his name.” She rejected his offer for marriage, which infuriated him. “He called me and threatened me that ‘you’ll either marry me or I’ll wreck your life’.” Bahrami reported the harassment to the police but they didn’t take it seriously. 

Of course they didn't.

The man was originally going to be sentenced to death, but Ameneh decided to spare his life and instead fought for the right to blind him in both eyes the way he'd blinded her, minus the disfigurement. What happened next is touching as fuck.

In Bahrami’s case, she or her family were allowed to drip acid into Movahedi’s eyes. A media furore led to the postponement of the sentence being carried out but eventually, in July 2011, Bahrami and her family went to Tehran’s judiciary hospital where Movahedi was due to be rendered unconscious before acid was dripped into his eyes. 
“He kept swearing at me as they prepared him on the bed,” she said. “There was no word of regret, nothing to indicate that he was sorry.” 
Being blind, Bahrami could not carry out the sentence herself, but her younger brother agreed to do it.  
At the last minute, as officials were counting down, she pardoned him. “I couldn’t do it, I knew I could not live with it until the end of my life,” she said. “I knew I would have suffered and burned twice had I done that.”
She added: “Movahedi was completely in shock, he fell at my feet, I said go away and don’t utter my name in your whole life.”

I want to pause here and say I would have supported her even if she'd chose to blind him. I have no idea what it feels like to be blinded and disfigured, having my whole life taken from me, being ostracized by society because now my face looks like it's melting and people can not deal with that. She exercised a level of mercy and compassion that I'm not sure I'm capable of. I might have let the courts hang the bastard.

Ameneh even deals with doubt, as she feels that letting him off easy might be encouraging other men to do the same thing Movahedi did to her. And of course, there have been other acid attacks since then.

“I feel I’m guilty. If I had carried out the sentence, maybe those incidents in Isfahan would not have happened,” she said. “I feel as if I had to do this. I felt as if I freed a wolf from its cage.”

And then, even though Movahedi was supposed to stay in prison until his family could compensate Ameneh for her medical expenses, this happened:

Movahedi was released from jail last year, apparently pardoned by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, though no compensation had been paid to Bahrami. “I felt completely betrayed,” she said.

Well fuck. Clearly, this man is not actually sorry at all for what he's done.

But at the very least, Ameneh has been able to write and release a book on her experiences. It's called Eye for an Eye, and hasn't yet been translated to English, but it is in several other languages including Spanish, so if you speak another language unlike this U.S.-born-and-raised-in-a-useless-education-system-that-somehow-thinks-its-too-good-to-properly-teach-foreign-language person, check it out.

I can only hope that she finds success and peace, and that her story inspires others to fight the incredible injustice and hatred involved in acid attacks. Fight to end deadly male entitlement and male violence against women. Thank you, Ameneh Bahrami, for being so amazing.

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