An Eye For An Eye

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Ever since I saw this story in 2009, I cannot help but think about it and the ramifications. The story is here:http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/meast/02/19/acid.attack.victim/index.html?iref=mpstoryview

The story is about a young woman named Ameneh who lives in Iran. She was unfortunate enough to have a young man sit next to her in college. He purposely brushed up against her and she was outraged. It was then that he began a two year pursuit of her. He harassed her and threatened her and even asked her to marry him. She however refused his advances.
One day after work she was approaching the bus stop when she heard someone behind her as she turned around she saw him and the next thing she felt was intense pain. He had thrown acid on her face. It immediately burned her entire face, her eyes, her arms and hands. Her mother kept the clothes she was wearing which shriveled and burned too. She was left permanently scarred and blind.

She has asked her government to blind her attacker with acid in the Islamic law tradition of “an eye for an eye” known as qisas. My understanding of qisas is that when used the punishment cannot not exceed that done by the perpetrator. Recently the courts in Iran have denied her attackers appeal and he could at any time be blinded. It is my understanding that he would have acid dropped into his eyes not sprayed on him in keeping with what qisas demands. She says her request is not one of vengeance but so that he can never do the same to another person and basically to show men that they cannot get away with this type of behavior. Human rights activists are outraged. I for one have been sitting on the fence quietly digesting the facts of this case and trying to come to some conclusion, none of which appear very satisfactory to me.

In researching this issue I was stunned to find out that in Bangladesh alone there have been over 2,600 acid attacks since 1999 against woman and young girls. According to IRIN, The UN Office for the Coordination of Human Affairs most of these were a result of land disputes, refusals of love declarations/proposals or problems with dowries. According to human rights groups these sorts of attacks are common in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Cambodia, Iraq and India. Often times women who take their cases to the courts find that they are met with disdain in which they are told that if they had only agreed to what the man had wanted they never would have had this problem.

In many countries women who have failed to dress modestly, meaning that their legs or heads may not have been covered or improperly so according to an arbitrary set of standards; have also been victims of acid attack.

Especially chilling is the story of the 11 girls and 4 teachers attending the Mirwais School for Girls in Afghanistan. On November 14, 2008 three men on motorcycles sprayed them with acid. The act was meant to intimidate the girls of the valley to remain uneducated and to stay away from school. In an incredible show of bravery almost all have returned to school refusing to be intimidated.

In 2002, parliament enacted two laws against acid violence: Under the Acid Control Act of 2002, the unlicensed production, import, transport, storage, sale, and use of acid can result in a prison term of 3-10 years. Those who possess chemicals and equipment for the unlicensed production of acid can get the same prison term.

One doctor sounded an optimistic note: “Since then, acid violence has been showing a rapid decline,” said Shamanta Lal Sen of the burns and plastic surgery unit at Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH).

According to ASF, 221 and 192 people were subjected to acid violence in 2006 and 2007 respectively. In 2000 and 2001 their number was 234 and 349 respectively.

Combating the crime of acid throwing is not easy as it appears to be a fairly common occurance in some countries. And little is done to the perpetrators except for them being ordered to make a minimal financial payment as a form of restitution. Two thousand dollars hardly begins to compensate for the intense medical care required when skin is melted and burned to the bone. Further, in a country in which beauty means so much and disability renders one invisable and obsolete, permenant disfigurement is tantamount to sentencing one to death because eventually there will be no one or no system to take care of the victim. First the victim is victimized by the attacker, then often by the courts and finally shunned by society as a whole. And the offender knows all of this and delights in it.

If it is true that prison terms have reduced the number of acid attacks then perhaps it is possible that even tougher mandatory sentences would help to decrease the number of incidences. But then again,perhaps, if Ameneh Bahrami is right, the blinding of her perpetrator may have more of an effect on stopping acid attacks than any laws presently on the books. Furthermore,if she does nothing and he attacks again her refusal to take action will make her accountable to the next victim for their injury.Lest we try to forget the man who is to be blinded is not an innocent man being used to advance a cause but he is the man who knowingly plotted and planned to disfigure and rob an innocent young woman of the life she knew and loved. He succeeded.

According to a story in the Washington Post… More than two weeks ago, Movahedi was led into court by two policemen. He showed no remorse when the court ruled on the case. When the judge asked whether he was ready for his punishment, Movahedi said that he still loved Bahrami but that if she asked for his eyes to be taken out, he would seek the same punishment for her.

“They must also completely empty out her eyes, since I’m not sure that she cannot secretly see,” he said. “The newspapers have made this a huge case, but I haven’t done anything bad.”

Ameneh Bahrami has the right to ask for an eye for an eye and has sound reasons for doing so. First and foremost her attacker STILL doesn’t believe he has done anything bad as quoted in the article by the Washington Post.

Preventing harm to others is Bahrami’s goal and it is a noble one in a country where there is no justice for women. May her goal of eliminating acid attacks be the outcome of her quest and may women everywhere never have to fear such a barbaric act being perpetrated on them or their loved ones.

As John Stuart Mill has expressed, “The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not sufficient warrant.”

 

 

You Know That Anniversary Breakfast…

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So we went to our 31st anniversary breakfast. It didn’t go so well. At least for me.It was here that B decided to finally share his feelings which are:
1. He wants to feel the feeling of loving me like I can do no wrong…the way he used to feel but he is unsure that he ever can again. He wants to feel once again like he worships the ground I walk on…which he is not sure that he ever can again.
2. That he is unsure that we are compatible or ever will be. I like to read he doesn’t. He likes to play the bagpipes, I do not. I tend to look for answers and he lets things lay. We go about things differently.He thinks it is important to be with someone he is compatible with…doesn’t know if that can be us.
3. That he doesn’t think we want the same things in life.
4. That he is afraid he cannot find his way back to me
5. That there is commitment on his part rather than deep love…which he would like to find again but doesn’t know how.
6. B wonders if we can we both live with what it is now or what it looks like in the future if there isn’t that deep love that he used to have with me.
7. He is upset that I am not happy living where we do
8. He thinks that when the kids are gone we will have nothing together and he is afraid it will look like now…with all this sadness and turmoil that we are going through right now and he doesn’t want that.
I said that it sounded as if he has made up his mind. That he sounds like our relationship is hopeless. We talked about what splitting up would look like. I think it seems weird divorcing because our marriage isn’t perfect. I mean it is not horrible we rarely fight. He says he feels happy/content in our relationship 60/40. I guess I feel 70/30 but I wouldn’t have said that before all this began.
I am discouraged. It doesn’t seem to matter that I no longer yell, that I am calmer, that the house is cleaner. It feels like nothing I do will change things. I’ll love you more if (fill in the blank) and you do it and it is just B.S.
He doesn’t know what he wants. I don’t think that is fair but maybe I am pushing for a resolution that might be different if I could just wait it out.I struggle with limbo.
I am sad.
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Sit with the Frustration

frus·tra·tion
frəˈstrāSH(ə)n/
noun
  1. the feeling of being upset or annoyed, especially because of inability to change or achieve something.

As I go back over the notes I have written during my therapy sessions one thing is abundantly clear. My therapist keeps reinterating that I need to sit with the frustration I am feeling and just be. Another thing that remains abundantly clear is I STILL struggle with this. I guess I am rather like a two year old… I want what I want, when I want it. And this means NOW.images-2

Coming from a family where life and death hung in the balance by only the newest that science could offer; that lack of control and unsettledness continues to effect me in ways that I am still unpacking and just beginning to understand. When you have life-threatening illness at your doorstep for years it doesn’t stop banging on the door just because the patient is doing better. In my case I was not the very ill child, my sister was. But in those days parents tried to protect their other children from “the truth” believing that they shouldn’t have those burdens put on them at such a young age. However, in my case, the lack of true understanding and knowledge lead to envisioning things in my mind that were probably worse than any real facts would have been. And basically since that time I have spent my life trying to mitigate surprises and always planning ahead. Frankly, this just doesn’t appear to be compatable with sitting in the silence, sitting with the unknown or sitting with frustration very well. I want purpose and I want action…NOW DAMN IT!

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Making this “sitting with frustration” even worse is that I am suppose to wait until B makes his own discoveries about himself and his own truths instead of spoon feeding my perception of the truth to him. His process is suppose to be his own process but like a famous Hollywood director I have the script already written and filmed in my mind about how the scene is suppose to go. And because feelings are on the periphary for him which makes any sort of immediate action of self-discovery difficult; I am afraid that this film is going to be WAY OVER BUDGET both emotionally and financially.

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And so I sit. Tired and frustrated. Tired of sitting. Tired of waiting. Tired of thinking about all this sitting when suddenly it occurs to me that B is probably just as tired of waiting for me to just sit. What a gift it could be it I could just be comfortable being in this limbo and in doing so freeing him up to make his own discoveries on his own timetable instead of feeling the silent pressure of my discomfort in sitting having to sit with my frustration. This realization sends a shiver of freedom down my stiff spine as I contemplate what it would be like to let others set their own timetables instead of trying to get them run on mine. And just like a passenger waiting for a delayed train getting annoyed at the situation isn’t going to change a thing and it certainly isn’t going to get the train there any faster. So today..a breakthrough… I finally “get” that I must tolerate this frustration without disappointment or anger because in the end I am not in control of it anyway.

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Honesty…The Double Edged Sword

I pride myself on being honest and feel that it is the most important quality a marriage must have to survive. But recently I have also come to realize it is a double edged sword. Take last night. B and I were out walking and I told him I thought I was working hard on changing those things that REALLY mattered to him. For instance, I have not yelled once in almost 2 weeks, I am definately keeping the house cleaner, we are being much more intimate, etc. I even went so far as to leave him THINGS TO DO LIST on the refridge telling him that until we went to marriage counseling I was willing to show him he is being heard by having him write one thing per day on the list that he would like done around the house. I, of course, would continue to do the other housework but would add this chore to the list of things that needed to be done. That was a biggie for me but I felt it was important that he knew I did value what he wanted and how he felt.

So as we were walking I asked him if he thought I was working hard on changing things that mattered to him like not yelling, cleaning more, buying out Victoria’s Secret, etc. He replied yes he did think I was. Then I went into the land mine asking him if he thought he was doing the same. And he said “Yes” and I I thought, “really, cause I’m not seeing it” so I asked “How?”. And he replied by being more intimate and making you feel desired. WHAT????? Really…because that isn’t benefitting you at all is it? NO, really I want to know BESIDES SEX what are you doing to change and then I realized that I had stepped on the trip wire just by the look on his face. And then I saved the night by saying, “Well I have noticed you are listening to me more” and in doing so lied. I lied because I didn’t want him to feel like “oh there she goes again I can never do anything right.” I lied because I realized I was going to ruin what had been a lovely evening by “going there.” I lied because I didn’t want to hurt his feelings by saying, “NO, I really don’t feel like you are doing a whole lot of changing except for the fact you are having more sex. No, I really don’t feel like you are working very hard on yourself. In fact, it feels like you are being more selfish while sitting back and watching me run around like a chicken with its head cut off trying to make things better.”

Sorry to inform you but we are BOTH going to have to change if this marriage is to survive.

The other side of the blade also looks like this. Now that you have told me you love me but don’t really like me and now that you have told me that you might want to divorce it is hard for me to trust you and our relationship, whatever that may now be. And since you don’t share your feelings I fear that you will just walk in the door and say, “I’m done.” And that just makes me feel hopeless, scared and vulnerable. Sure, I know that I have to stop the yelling and that by doing so it will benefit everyone and also have a profound spiritual, mental and physical impact on me.  So whether B stays or leaves this is something that I am needing to accomplish for myself. But it feels so wrong to feel like my head is on the chopping block with the guillotine blade being held up by a thread. And that needs to somehow change if I am going to move forward and not sabotage this chance at saving our marriage.

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