AFP reporters were able to pass unchallenged through the main police checkpoint into Zayouna, where the previous evening police said gunmen stormed two apartment buildings and killed 27 women with silenced weapons.
“This is the fate of any prostitution,” read a inscription on the door of the one of the raided buildings.
Zayouna residents say that local apartments have long been used for prostitution and that alleged sex workers are found murdered every few months, with police unwilling or unable to prevent the attacks.
“If a person got shot right next to a policeman they wouldn’t say anything. They’re afraid. It’s the rule of the strong over the weak,” said a shopkeeper who declined to be identified.
“So what if they were prostitutes? It’s God who judges us, after all.”
Oh no, it’s religious fanatics who judge us, and murder us if the judgment is thumbs down.
Shiite militias with connections to political parties hold sway over parts of Baghdad, while suicide blasts by Sunni extremists are still frequent, with sectarian killings on both sides routine.
Both groups’ extreme antipathy to sex workers is probably one of the few things they have in common.
“Everyone’s afraid. Let me be killed but I have to say what’s in my heart. I’m a Shiite, and I’m telling you these were Shiite gangs. Who else controls Baghdad? They’re more powerful than the police and any other authority,” said tattooed taxi driver Hassan Assad, 36, who works in Zayouna.
“The prostitutes have been here since Saddam’s time. Why do you think they’re doing this? Because their husband has been imprisoned or killed and they’re trying to feed their kids. How did Iraq come to this?”
Well the US helped a lot with that.