There came a bleak announcement Sunday from Basra's police chief: At least 40 women have been killed in Iraq's second-largest city this year for "violating Islamic teachings." Sectarian gangs reportedly comb the streets, looking for women wearing nontraditional dress, and scrawl red graffiti warnings reading: "Your makeup and your decision to forgo the headscarf will bring you death." Maj. Gen. Jalil Khalaf summarized the issue succinctly: "The women of Basra are being horrifically murdered and then dumped in the garbage with notes saying they were killed for un-Islamic behavior." Families often fear retribution for reporting such deaths, so the body count it likely much higher, he added.
Keep in mind, as the Associated Press aptly notes, that before the U.S. invasion Basra was "known for its mixed population and night life."