Authorities in the southern Iraqi city of Basra have admitted they are powerless to prevent ‘honour killings’ in the city following a 70 per cent increase in religious murders during the past year.
There has been no improvement in conviction rates for these killings. So far this year, 81 women in the city have been murdered for allegedly bringing shame on their families. Only five people have been convicted.
During 2007 the Basra security committee recorded 47 ‘honour killings’ and three convictions. One lawyer in the city described how police were actively protecting perpetrators and said that a woman in Basra could now be murdered by hired hitmen for as little as $100 (£65).
The figures come despite international outrage which followed The Observer’s coverage of the death of 17-year-old Rand Abdel-Qader, who was murdered by her father last April in an ‘honour killing’ after falling in love with a British soldier in Basra. The 4,000 British troops stationed in the city since the invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003 withdrew to the airport last September.