By: Vanessa Valenti on May 29, 2008 Yesterday, women’s rights activists and UN officials testified in Stockholm about the escalation of violence against women in Iraq since U.S. occupation: The United Nations’ special representative to Baghdad, Staffan de Mistura, cited a recent UN human rights report on Iraq as saying that ‘in Basra 100 or more women had been killed or mutilated because they were wearing what was considered by some as inappropriate dress. The dress was not inappropriate at all.’ De Mistura also mentioned the high number of so-called ‘honour crimes’ in the Kurdistan region of northern Iraq. ‘Since the (2003 US) occupation we have seen a deterioration of women’s rights,’ said Lena Ag, the secretary general of the Swedish organisation Kvinna till Kvinna (Woman to Woman). The testimony took place the day before the International Compact with Iraq (ICI) conference, which looks at the political and security status since its peace plan they launched five years ago. Iraqi women’s rights activists also stressed the importance for more women, and civil society in general, to take part in development efforts in Iraq. ‘Women are a potential factor for democratic and development processes in Iraq,’ said Hanaa Edwar Busha, one of the founders of the Iraqi Women Network, stressing that women represent around 55 percent of the Iraqi population. For more information on Iraqi women’s rights, check out the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq and the Iraqi Women’s Rights Coalition.