"Respect for women... can triumph in the Middle East and beyond," said George Bush at the UN in September 2002. But numerous studies and surveys over the past three years proved that the situation of Iraqi women worsened under the US occupation.
The women of Basra have disappeared. Three years after the US-led invasion of Iraq, women's secular freedoms - once the envy of women across the Middle East - have been snatched away because militant Islam is rising across the country.
Across central Iraq, there is an exodus of people fleeing for their lives as sectarian assassins and death squads hunt them down. At ground level, Iraq is disintegrating as ethnic cleansing takes hold on a massive scale.