Iran’s use of Qisasor the legal principle of retribution has been put into the spotlight again. Earlier this month, a criminal court in Tehran, Iran, sentenced a man to forced blinding. According to the victim, the defendant stabbed him in the eye, causing irreparable damage. “I have suffered a lot in these four years, and I have no intention of forgiving,” the victim said.
Qisas is an Islamic principle that calls for a punishment equal to inflicted damage. This principle operates similarly to the phrase in the book of Leviticus, “an eye for an eye.”
Iran’s penal code is primarily based on Islamic principles and usually calls for corporal punishments. Human rights groups have been critical of how Iranian courts dispense their ruling, including amputations. Amnesty International calls these ruling horrific and an utter “disregard of the basic principles of humanity.”
Iranian courts ordered to flog a prisoner 60 times earlier this year for “disrupting prison order.” Diana Eltahawy, Deputy Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa of Amnesty International, calls for a stop to the “shocking acts of cruelty and mutilation.”
In 2004, Ameneh Bahrami was left blind and disfigured after an aggrieved suitor attacked her with acid. In 2008, Iranian courts sentenced Bahrami’s attacker, Majid Movahedi, to forced blinding. Bahrami later changed her mind and accepted the blood money, sparing Movahedi from blindness.
Similar cases of forced blinding were carried out in Iran in 2015 and 2016. Both perpetrators blinded their victims, either intentionally or as a result of an assault. In one case, doctors were instructed to “gouge out the eye” of the perpetrator. Activists and other human rights watchdogs stressed that these actions violate ethical codes.
Speaking to RadioFreeEurope, Bahrami said that her pursuit for justice is not over but believes she has done the right thing because “the Koran gives you the right to retribution,” Bahrami stated. “ But this very Koran also encourages you to pardon since pardoning is one of the highest moral standards,” she added.