Women oppressed in British-occupied Basra

“Even wearing a pair of trousers is considered an act of defiance, punishable by death.”

Iraqis may be able to vote, but women are if anything less rather than more enfranchised, according to a story in the Independent.

Iraq is so depressing, I can barely bring myself to read these stories any more. Just in case you’re under the illusion that things are much better in the areas under British control, “women insist the situation is at its worst” in Basra and the surrounding area.

Under Saddam, women played little part in political life but businesswomen and academics travelled the country unchallenged while their daughters mixed freely with male students at university.

Now, even the most emancipated woman feels cowed.

A television producer Arij Al-Soltan, 27, now exiled, said: “It is much worse for women in the south. I blame the British for not taking a strong stand.”

Jade, Jordan, Brittany Spears. Female celebrities are as likely to be reviled as they are to be envied, and it’s arguable if many of them are respected. Angela McRobbie, from my own alma mater Goldsmiths, cuts through these ambiguous messages in the Guardian’s Comment is Free section.