"Take a look at the story on the BBC website about the terrible things happening to women in Basra. We'd be interested to see what you think," I was told during my morning shift.
The report is full of brutal details about how some of the religious extremists in the southern Iraqi city of Basra are targeting women – threatening, intimidating and even murdering them – in an effort to enforce strict Islamic law.
What are the women's crimes? Anything from wearing a shortish skirt, to not wearing a headscarf, to using make-up.
Forty-two women were killed in Basra between July and September of this year, according to the police chief.
"It's terrible, but I'm not surprised." I told my NBC colleagues. "I've heard of similar things happening in some of Baghdad's neighborhoods."
Islamic law in Baghdad
In Basra, many have blamed the Iranian-influenced Shiite Mahdi Army for the violence. But in Baghdad neighborhoods like Dora and Ameria, it's not the Shiite, but Sunni extremists who are influenced by al-Qaida, who have imposed Islamic law.
I know all too well because my aunt lives in Ameria and I actually went to see her for the first time in over 18 months when the security situation eased recently.
But despite the improved security situation, it was still a difficult journey to get to the neighborhood – the only way I could travel there safely was by wearing a veil and an Islamic gown on top of my normal clothes.
If I'd gone there dressed as usual -- wearing full make-up, a short sleeved shirt and trousers – it would have been tantamount to a death sentence. I also didn't want to embarrass my aunt, who has to survive there by abiding by the local rules.
It's a risky business being an independent female here and many friends are shocked by my attitude.
To wear or not to wear?
As far as I can tell, women's attitudes toward the veil can be divided into four categories:
--There are those like me who refuse to wear the veil. Like others, I am able to do that by avoiding dangerous, extremist areas.
--There are those who wear it because they like it and believe in it, usually for religious reasons.
--Others wear it because they are obliged to so by tradition and their male family members.
--Finally there are those like my aunt who are forced to wear veils because they are unlucky enough to live in an area controlled by extremists.
Personally, I could never do that. I will not change my life in order to appease militias.
But, then again, that's easy for me to say because I'm one of the lucky ones. Inshallah (God willing) that will continue.
* The names of local journalists are not used to protect their identity.