Anti-women violence in Basra, Iraq's second largest city, about 600 km south of the capital, Baghdad, has increased markedly in recent months and has forced women to stay indoors, police and local NGOs have said.
"Basra is facing a new type of terror which leaves at least 10 women killed monthly, some of them are later found in garbage dumps with bullet holes while others are found decapitated or mutilated," the city's police chief Maj. Gen. Abdel Jalil Khalaf told IRIN in a telephone interview. "...They are trying to impose a life style like banning women from wearing western clothes or forcing them to wear head scarf,"
Speaking only on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals, a woman activist with a local NGO in Basra said "Sunni and Shia extremists are imposing an extremist culture on the community of Basra, a new culture in our society which leads to bloody violence against women," she said. "And this culture, which surfaced after the US-led invasion in 2003, added more to the already existing tribal culture which condones family violence against women," she added.
Like other parts of Iraq, Basra before the US-led invasion in 2003 was known for its mixed population and active night life with social and night clubs. Basra women had the right to choose their own life-style although it was considered a tribal society. But now vigilantes patrol the streets of Basra on motorbikes or in cars with dark-tinted windows and no license plates. They accost women who are not wearing the traditional dress and head scarf known as hijab. They also attack men for clothes or haircuts deemed too Western.
And they called it liberation !!