In recent weeks, the people of Iran have been panicked by a wave of acid attacks against women as they were walking in public. During the attacks, men on motorcycles splashed acid on women through open car windows. Several men have been arrested in connection with attacks on at least four women.
The attacks come after a series of new rules were issued to punish women deemed “badly veiled” in public. A law passed in Parliament protects citizens who “correct” women and men for not adhering to Iran’s strict social laws. According to the Islamic Republic News Agency, the Interior Ministry has opposed the new law and is trying to alter it.
After the attacks, the judiciary issued a statement saying that the “most serious punishment” awaits the perpetrators of the attacks, which typically means that they will face execution if found guilty. While acid attacks have been widespread in India and Pakistan over the years, they are not as common in Iran. Police have not been able to confirm the total number of attacks that have occurred so far.
In Iran, the list of official vices is long and reflects an archaic lifestyle of the past that many Iranians find difficult to follow today. In reality, many of these rules are widely flouted until the judiciary decides to make an example out of someone. Iran’s tough Islamic laws include strictly enforced dress codes and laws against alcohol, sex before marriage, Western pop music and the showing of female hands in advertisements. In recent years, some clerics have been beaten up on the streets after trying to correct people not following their strict interpretations of the laws.
The episodes have been widely discussed by the semiofficial Iranian Students’ News Agency and on social media in Iran. Many women have now chosen to stay indoors rather than risk becoming a victim of an attack. Many in the country believe that overall violence against women has become increasingly common in the region because the penalties against the men perpetrating the violence are not tough enough and that is if the attacker is ever charged with a crime at all.