Photo Of The Day

Photo: Ebrahim Noroozi. 7 December 2012

Photo: Ebrahim Noroozi. 7 December 2012

Victims of Forced Love

Somayeh Mehri (29) and her daughter Rana Afghanipour (3) give each other a kiss. Since their disfigurement in an acid attack, they say, others don’t like to kiss them.

Somayeh and Rana live in Bam, Southern Iran. They were attacked with acid by Somayeh’s husband Amir. Somayeh had frequently been beaten and locked up by her husband, and finally found the courage to ask for a divorce. Amir warned her that if she persisted in her attempts to leave him, she would not live out life with the face she had.

One night in June 2011, he poured acid on Somayeh and Rana as they slept. Somayeh’s and Rana’s faces, hands, and, in places, their bodies were severely burned. Somayeh was blinded, and Rana lost one of her eyes. Somayeh’s father sold his land in order to raise money to pay their medical expenses and fellow villagers have also helped.

Just before dawn, Sommayeh Mehri’s husband slipped into the bedroom where she slept with her two small daughters and doused their sleeping figures with a bucket of acid. Mehri awoke to excruciating pain and began shouting for help. “I’m burning, I’m burning!” she screamed. Her husband, who had earlier denied Mehri’s request for a divorce, had cut electricity to the house before his attack. It took long minutes for Mehri’s neighbors to find water and reach the family in the darkness. Today the skin across her face and arms is covered with rough, discolored scars. One eye has fused entirely into the skin, and she can see no more than faint shadows with her remaining eye. Mehri knows only from others’ accounts that her younger daughter Rana, now 3, is also badly disfigured, with burns across 60% of her body.

These days, Mehri and Rana spend their time traveling between hospitals in Tehran and their home in Hemmatabad, a small village in southeastern Iran, near the city of Bam. (The older daughter Nazanin was injured less severely.) They have both endured numerous surgeries and will require many more. Doctors hope that with time they will be able to restore Mehri’s sight and repair Rana’s eyelid, enabling the toddler to shut her remaining eye. But whether Mehri and Rana will ever receive justice is another question. Under qesas, the eye-for-an-eye principle of Iran’s Islamic penal code, Mehri is entitled to ask for compensation and the right to blind and disfigure her husband with acid. Authorities in nearby Bam have been slow to grant Mehri’s divorce, however, and eventually released her husband on bail; Mehri has told reporters that he has since threatened her life.

While such acid attacks are much less common in Iran than in countries like India or Pakistan, Mehri’s ordeal is a troubling reminder of the legal and social discrimination women face under Tehran’s Islamic government. Iran’s judiciary often acts in proportion to media scrutiny and public outrage, and as a poor woman from the provinces, Mehri has found herself unequipped to command media attention. Her main concern remains treatment for her daughter Rana. “She doesn’t understand yet what has happened to her,” Mehri told an Iranian news agency. “That’s why she’s still playful and happy. But with one emptied-out eye and a burned face, how can she live among her friends and others?”

“This is my great sorrow.”

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  • Miguel

    Shivers these photos of the day can be intense sometimes. I have a three year old daughter, so this one was especially hard to see. I’m glad they’re receiving medical treatment, but what a horrid, inhumane thing to do to your wife and especially your young child. I hope the husband receives justice someday, somehow.

    • Bob D

      He will, if not in this world then the next.

  • conwaycaptain

    It is just not in Islamic countries that this happens. It happens in India in the Hindu community as well. It goes back to the days off suttee etc. This was stamped out after a lot of hard work by the Raj.
    Remember all the rapes etc that have been reported in India this is part of the same problem.
    Women and girls are treated as less than human and are sold and enslaved across all parts of N Africa, Middle East and SE Asia

  • sarahmw

    Oh right and this is the religion of peace. Tears came to my eyes when I read this horrific story. What possesses a person to think it is ok to do this to another human being ? Don’t ever tell me that Islam is a tolerant and good religion. It is not and to think there are people who demand that we should be tolerant of them. Jesus wept.

    • Huia

      He is not a man at all, he is a mongrel and should have ceased to exist a long time ago. No bail, no second chance, no life.
      How someone could do that to another person is beyond most of our comprehension, but to do that to his own child will surely see his place in hell being kept warm for him. Maybe not Moslem as it happens in a few cultures and many countries. Where do they get the acid from?

  • pak

    Utterly barbaric and shocking that any human being could do that to another, let alone his own wife and child. Very confronting. A young woman and her little daughter facing a lifetime of pain and horrific disfigurement. For what?

  • HSV325

    That is so sad. I had a tear in my reading it. What a vile piece of scum her husband is. Hopefully someone hunts him down and cuts his oxygen supply permanently.

  • Rodger T

    Apparently that is what passes for honour in that part of the world.
    The penchant for killing or disfiguring family members in the name of family honour .

    Love seems to be a foreign concept in lands where arranged matches are common place.

  • 40something

    The only ugliness is in the heart of the despicable perpetrator.
    He does not deserve to be called a man. Despite intolerable pain and a lifetime of suffering ahead, the beauty of the love between mother and child shines.
    Forced myself to look at this and cried. Wish we could help her.

  • edee

    No one on this planet has the right to make others suffer like this regardless of what petty things they may have done or said.

    Everyday you read about atrocities happening all over the world and everyday it makes me realise how much we take for granted and how very lucky we are to live here. Life is precious, life in NZ is precious, we have so much to be grateful for. I am not a religious person but … There for the grace of God go I.

  • Toasty

    I wonder about these peoples mentality. Do they all just keep acid lying around in case they suddenly need to burn a family member. I wouldn’t even know when to start looking for something like that.

    Hopefully he gets what he deserves. Here’s a clue. What he deserves has acid in it…..

  • willtin

    It’s a beautiful photograph.
    It shows pure Love.

  • Clutch Cargo

    Im deafened by the outrage of our feminist organisations!!!!!!!.

  • intelligentes candida diva

    The mother has the love of her child.
    I think knowing what has happened to her child the mothers heart must break every day.
    I agree with all the comments made
    Thank you very much for putting this photo out there and the story
    I cried for them, I cried because I feel helpless to help them and I feel enraged that a husband or anyone can get away with such an act. I wonder where the man is now .