More than 2,000 people have taken to the streets of Iran to protest against a surge in acid attacks in the country. The protests were staged in the city of Isfahan where at least four women were disfigured with acid last week.
According to police chief Gen. Ismaeil Ahmadi Moghaddam, eight episodes of acid attacks occurred in the area in the last few months.
Investigators said that the assailants used the same modus operandi of throwing acid at the women in cars while riding motorbikes. The authorities believe the similar nature of the attacks suggests that they were carried out by the same people, but added that the motive was still unknown.
However, local media and protesters suggested that the women were disfigured because they did not follow the dress code implemented in the country. According to Iranian Islamic law, women are required to wear the hijab – a garment which covers head and chest, with the exception of the face – and to cover legs, arms and torso when they are in public.
London-based political activist and journalist, Professor Reza Moradi, said that the thousands of people who rallied demanded "an end to the involvement of the law in women's life in general and safety for women."
Speaking to IBTimes UK, he said: "Attacks took place in the street targeting random women who were not 'properly veiled'.
"Thousands of men and women protested and accused the authorities for the outrageous act; the government has been passing laws and urging police to tackle 'civil disobedience' (improper veiling and rejection of Islamic dress code). So it is normal to hold the authorities accountable for the actions and for not safeguarding the society against such attacks."
Acid Throwing Widespread Worldwide
Acid throwing is often carried out to disfigure people, not to kill them. The practice is not frequent in Iran, but it is largely widespread in Asian and Middle Eastern countries such as India, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan, and also some areas of South America and Africa.
A 2013 report warned about the surge in similar attacks in Italy. In one episode, a woman who was pregnant with twins was attacked and burned with acid while she was parking her car near a clinic in Milan.