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.
"There is chaos in Iraq now, and there is danger everywhere," 27-year-old Nora Ahmed told IPS. The situation has gone "from bad to worse, and only when the occupation ends, women in Iraq will be in a better situation," said Fatima al-Naddaf.
Since the fall of Saddam Hussein, Iraq has seen a proliferation of female journalists and radio programs focused on women's issues. Three female talk show hosts visited New York to hone their skills with U.S. talk radio pros.