BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- The images in the Basra police file are nauseating: Page after page of women killed in brutal fashion -- some strangled to death, their faces disfigured; others beheaded. All bear signs of torture.
The women are killed, police say, because they failed to wear a headscarf or because they ignored other "rules" that secretive fundamentalist groups want to enforce.
"Fear, fear is always there," says 30-year-old Safana, an artist and university professor. "We don't know who to be afraid of. Maybe it's a friend or a student you teach. There is no break, no security. I don't know who to be afraid of."
Her fear is justified. Iraq's second-largest city, Basra, is a stronghold of conservative Shia groups. As many as 133 women were killed in Basra last year -- 79 for violation of "Islamic teachings" and 47 for so-called honor killings, according to IRIN, the news branch of the U.N.'s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
"When I came to Basra a year ago," he says, "two women were killed in front of their kids. Their blood was flowing in front of their kids, they were crying. Another woman was killed in front of her 6-year-old son, another in front of her 11-year-old child, and yet another who was pregnant."...
...After the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003, Sawsan says, the situation was "the best." But now, she says, it's "the worst."
"We thought there would be freedom and democracy and women would have their rights. But all the things we were promised have not come true. There is only fear and horror."
a poem by thepoetryman
They scatter me over the solemn ground.
They wipe my death on the walls before my child’s eyes.
My body is lifted from me and never returned.
My eyes move to my child as the soil swallows my limbs.
This; my death, pays no tribute,
Serves no purpose,
Only brings my child to hatred.
Maybe that’s it-
Teach children to kill; vengeance;
One tormentor spent, sold for oil;
This won’t wash away to befall something better.
I descend with a last look at my child,
Eyes swathed in dread following me down,
An ashen face and vacant eyes pleading
As I pass beneath the surface
Observing the insipid reach of hatred.
I know war only honors the things of beasts
As I am grown in the ground like a seed for tomorrow.
© 2007 mrp/thepoetryman
...Violations of 'Islamic teachings' take deadly toll on Iraqi women