Editor’s Note: This story appeared in today’s edition of The Daily Beast. Readers may be familiar with the tragic story of Katie Piper, a British woman who survived a similar horrific attack.
Sara, 21 years old, lives in the historic Iranian city of Isfahan, close to Jolfa, the Christian quarter. For the past two weeks there have been rumors going around that a group of motorcyclists are throwing acid on women whose hejabs, the veils to be worn over the hair in the Islamic Republic, do not meet this gang’s standards. They target women’s faces, and the attacks are said to have been concentrated, precisely, in Sara’s neighborhood.
On October 16 the Iranian Students’ News Agency (ISNA) confirmed one report: a woman in a car had been attacked, and acid was thrown in her face. There was widespread speculation that it was done as a means of punishment because the woman was wearing an “improper” hejab arranged to show too much of the hair and face beneath. Colonel Hossein Hosseinzadeh, deputy commander of the security forces in Isfahan, confirmed that two such attacks had taken place, but he said the motive was not clear and the police were pursuing the matter.
Fazlollah Kafil, Isfahan’s governor, said that the victim was a married woman. “It is possible that the motive was personal,” he said. “We have to investigate such cases carefully. If we are too hasty, we will make people feel unsafe. Police will let us know what they find out as soon as possible.”
But residents of Isfahan feel unsafe already. According to some reports, up to six women have been taken to Isfahan’s Feyz Hospital in connection with acid attacks. The hospital specializes in treating eye conditions. One person IranWire spoke to said the average age of the women is about 30.