Despite the fact acid attacks are now considered a capital offense in Iran, there has been an increase in cases involving vitriolage in the Islamic republic.
At least nine women have been left injured after incidents of acid-throwing in Isfahan – the country’s top tourist destination – in the past three weeks.
Under Islamic law in force in Iran since the 1979 revolution, women in Iran must wear loose clothing, known as “hijab,” that covers the head and neck. However, recently, many have started wearing a thin veil that hardly covers the hair and tight coats that reach mid-thigh.
It has been reported that vigilantes, who deem such dressing inappropriate or against the Islamic code of conduct, carry out physical assault or vitriol attacks against those women.
Even though the law enforcement authorities arrested four men in connection with the cases, thousands of people took to the streets, marching on the Department of Justice to demand protection for women against violent assaults.
Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency estimated the number of the participants to be around 2,000, according to The Guardian.
The protesters chanted "death to extremists" and "Isfahan is our city, security is our right," NBC News reported.
Here are some images from the rally:
Recommended: Can Anyone Stop Iran From Executing This Woman?
Amid protests, condemnation of violent assaults started coming in from top clerics and politicians.
“Such an act under any pretext is reprehensible,” Hojatoleslam Mohammad Taghi Rahbar, a cleric, told the semi-official ISNA news agency. “Even if a woman goes out into the street in the worst way, no one has the right to do such a thing.”
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, in a televised speech, denounced violence in the name of Islam
He did not refer to the cases of acid attacks, but mentioned that headscarves or Islamic dress for women, which for women in Iran means loose-fitting clothing and mandatory covering of the hair, was the central issue.
"Rue the day we see vice manifested only in bad hijab and we tend to overlook lies, slander, corruption and bribery as bigger vices," Rouhani told the waving stadium crowd where women were standing in a separate section from men.
"I want to see our parliament's actions resulting in more unity, more cohesion, and more jobs for our young people. No vice is above joblessness, poverty and lack of opportunity to a good education."
Although the acid attacks have instilled fear in some women in the city, they remain defiant.
"I'm not afraid," Samira, a 30-year-old gym instructor from Esfahan told Reuters. "I won't change how I dress because we must fight against this strain of thought."