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Iranian women protest acid attacks
Iranian women protest acid attacks@NCRI_Women_Comm via Twitter

Thousands march in Iran to protest acid attacks on women

Around 2,000 Iranians took to the streets of Ishafan yesterday to demonstrate against a spate of acid attacks against women

Thousands have hit the streets of Ishafan, Iran to protest against a recent spate of acid attacks that have left one woman dead and others blinded and disfigured. On Sunday, a woman died after being attacked. A city official told the New York Times that eight to nine women have been assaulted over the past three weeks in the city by male motorcycle gangs. 

Social media users say that the victims were targeted because they were improperly veiled. Islamic law in Iran dictates that women must wear the hijab to conceal their hair. Four men have been arrested in connection with the crime, but nobody has been charged as yet. 

An estimated 2,000 people lined the streets in Ishafan to vent their anger against the attacks, with women's rights activists picketing the city's Department of Justice. Protesters changed slogans such as "a safe city is my right" and "acid attacks are a crime, lawmakers show support".

Another grave source of discontent for the protesters is a new law passed on Sunday by the Iranian Parliament. The controversial law aims to protect vigilantes who seek to correct those who are not acting in an "Islamic way". For example, men who disfigure women for wearing veils incorrectly could be afforded certain protections under the law. 

Iranian president Hassan Rouhani is said to be opposed to the law. In a speech on Wednesday, he said: "The sacred call to virtue is not the right of a select group of people, a handful taking the moral high ground and acting as guardians. It is upon all Muslims to exhort love, respect for others and human dignity."

Human rights lawyer Nastin Sotoudeh called on Rouhani to block the new legislation, telling EA Worldview that "dispatching unidentified and untrained individuals to promote virtue among the citizens is completely against the law... and is a menace to the citizens which must be stopped right here". 

Watch footage of the protest below: