There has been a recent series of acid attacks on women in the Iranian city of Isfahan. These attacks, which involve men on motorcycles throwing acid into the faces of women, are believed to be linked to the fact that the women are being targeted for “bad hijab” — meaning that the women are seen as not being properly veiled and covered.
It is still unclear how many women have been attacked with acid. General Hossein Ashtari confirms that there have been four such attacks, but various sources from social media claim that the number of women is at least 13, all of whom were female drivers who were “badly veiled.”
Since the revolution in Iran in 1979, under Islamic law, women are required to wear hijab, which typically consists of loose clothing that also covers the neck and the head. This is sometimes accomplished with a chador, which is a semicircle of fabric the length of the entire body, which is tossed over the wearer’s head and held closed in the front, as it has no hand openings, buttons, or clasps. But in recent years, many women have begun to wear a thin veil that barely covers the hair, tighter clothing, and coats that reach only to mid-thigh. Conservatives in Iran denounce this.
These acid attacks are coming just at the time that the Iranian parliament has passed a law that gives even more power to “morality patrols.” Ansar-e-Hezbollah, which means “Supporters of the Party of God” – is a militant fundamentalist group that recently made it known that they would be resuming their “street activities.” In the past, these street activities have included targeting women whom they see as not being properly dressed. And due to the passing of the recent law, it seems as though the men who are attacking women may feel that their actions are not only justified, but legal, as well.
Fortunately, most Iranian officials consider the act of throwing acid at women to be horribly reprehensible, even those who are devoutly religious and follow a more fundamentalist branch of Islam. An influential commander of the Revolutionary Guards in Iran, Akbar Pakzad, considers the act of attacking women with acid a deadly sin, punishable by death.
“Such actions are forbidden, whether by religion, by sharia or by the law. They are not human. Anybody who takes such actions under any pretext has committed a crime and must be punished under the maximum penalty,” he said.
A senior cleric and prayer leader of the city of Isfahan, the city where the attacks are taking place, also condemns the attacks.
“Such an act under any pretext is reprehensible,” he said, adding, “Even if a woman goes out into the street in the worst way, no one has the right to do such a thing.”
Acid attacks are brutal, disfiguring, and horrific crimes against mostly female targets. Acid attacks have been used against women who have been perceived to sully honor in some way, usually through what is seen as “dishonorable behavior.”
For more on acid attacks, read about the young women in India who have risen above their ordeals to create something beautiful.