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Victim: Revenge in Iran acid attack is 'not worth it'

From Shirzad Bozorgmehr, CNN
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Acid attack victim: change of heart
  • NEW: Ameneh Bahrami says she "never intended" to have her attacker blinded
  • NEW: She is fighting for the full amount she is owed as restitution
  • A court convicted Majid Movahedi of the acid attack in 2008
  • Movahedi carried out the attack after the victim had rejected his advances for two years
  • Iran

Tehran, Iran (CNN) -- A woman blinded in an acid attack seven years ago said Sunday she stopped the "eye for an eye" punishment for her attacker because "such revenge is not worth it."

A physician was to drop acid -- under legal supervision -- into the eyes of Majid Movahedi on Sunday, according to Fars News Agency, to punish him for throwing acid in Bahrami's face. The act disfigured her face and blinded her.

"I never intended to allow Majid to be blinded," Ameneh Bahrami told CNN. "... Each of us, individually, must try and treat others with respect and kindness in order to have a better society."

Bahrami stopped the punishment minutes before it was carried out, she said, adding that Movahedi already had been given anesthetic.

She said two men were instrumental in bringing about her change of heart: a doctor at a clinic in Spain and Amir Sabouri, an Iranian who helped her get medical attention. Sabouri told her to forgive Movahedi and prove to the world that Iranians are kind and forgiving, she said.

However, she said Movahedi is unrepentant and has been rude to her, even after she halted his punishment. .

This week marks the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan in the Islamic world, and pardons and commuted sentences commonly occur as a show of compassion leading into the holiday.

An Iranian court convicted Movahedi in 2008 of pouring a bucket of acid on Bahrami, after she had rejected his unwanted advances for two years.

Bahrami had demanded at the time that the court sentence the man to suffer the same fate he had inflicted upon her, and the court agreed, citing provisions in Islamic law.

The sentence was to be carried out in May 2011, but a court postponed it after Amnesty International protested against it on the grounds of cruelty.

Restitution in such cases is about $200,000, Bahrami said, but the law dictates she should only receive half of that because she is a woman. She argued the issue with the judge, she said, and he told her to speak with lawmakers and convince them to change the law. She said Sunday she has asked for a meeting with lawmakers and expects to talk with them in the future. She said she intends to collect and use the money for her medical treatment.

She said Movahedi does not have the money, and she has asked authorities to keep him in jail until he pays her.

Bahrami says she first met Movahedi in 2002 when they attended the same school.

She was a 24-year-old electronics student. He was 19. She never noticed him until he sat next to her in class and brushed up against her. Bahrami says she knew it wasn't an accident.

"I moved away from him," she said, "but he brushed up against me again."

Bahrami said that over the next two years, Movahedi harassed her and made threats, even asking her to marry him.

"He told me he would kill me. He said, 'You have to say yes.' "

On a November afternoon in 2004, his threats turned to violence when he followed her from the medical engineering company where she worked.

As she walked to the bus stop, she sensed someone behind her.

She turned around and was startled to see Movahedi, who threw something over her. What felt like fire on her face was acid searing through her skin.

"I was just yelling, 'I'm burning! I'm burning! For God's sake, somebody help me,' " she said.

The acid seeped into her eyes, and streamed down her face into her mouth. When she covered her face with her hands, streaks of acid ran down her fingers and onto her forearms.

She said Sunday that she does not expect others to follow her example of forgiveness, but noted that if they do, "it would prove that they are great human beings."

She has published a book in Germany, and said she is now trying to write a book in Persian about her ordeal and women in Iranian society. "I will be personally responsible for naming names and will answer for it," she said.

In 2009, Bahrami told CNN that she had undergone more than a dozen surgeries on her badly scarred face, but still imagined that in the future she would have a wedding day.

"I always see myself as someone who can see and sometimes see myself in a beautiful wedding gown, and why not?" she said.

CNN's Reza Sayah contributed to this report