Nadia Murad was born and raised in Kocho, a small village of farmers and shepherds in northern Iraq. A
member of the Yazidi community, she and her brothers and sisters lived a quiet life. Nadia had dreams
of becoming a history teacher or opening her own beauty salon.
On August 15th, 2014, when Nadia was just twenty-one years old, this life ended. Islamic State militants
massacred the people of her village, executing men who refused to convert to Islam and women too old
to become sex slaves. Six of Nadia’s brothers were killed, and her mother soon after, their bodies swept
into mass graves. Nadia was taken to Mosul and forced, along with thousands of other Yazidi girls, into
the ISIS slave trade.
Nadia in her words
The slave market opened at night. We could hear the commotion downstairs where militants were
registering and organising, and when the first man entered the room, all the girls started screaming. It
was like the scene of an explosion. We moaned as though wounded, doubling over and vomiting on the
floor, but none of it stopped the militants. They paced around the room, staring at us, while we screamed
and begged. They gravitated toward the most beautiful girls first, asking, “How old are you?” and
examining their hair and mouths. “They are virgins, right?” they asked a guard, who nodded and said, “Of
course!” like a shopkeeper taking pride in his product. Now the militants touched us anywhere they
wanted, running their hands over our breasts and our legs, as if we were animals.It was chaos while the
militants paced the room, scanning girls and asking questions in Arabic or the Turkmen language.
“Calm down!” militants kept shouting at us. “Be quiet!” But their orders only made us scream louder. If it
was inevitable that a militant would take me, I wouldn’t make it easy for him. I howled and screamed,
slapping away hands that reached out to grope me. Other girls were doing the same, curling their bodies
into balls on the floor or throwing themselves across their sisters and friends to try to protect them.
Escaping the isis
Nadia would be held captive by several militants and repeatedly raped and beaten. Finally, she managed
a narrow escape through the streets of Mosul, finding shelter in the home of a Sunni Muslim family
whose eldest son risked his life to smuggle her to safety.
Nadia Murad eventually escaped her Isis captors. She was smuggled out of Iraq and in early 2015 went
as a refugee to Germany. Later that year she began to campaign to raise awareness of human
She left Germany for Switzerland to speak to a UN forum on minority issues. It was the first time I would
tell my story in front of a large audience. I wanted to talk about everything – the children who died of
dehydration fleeing Isis, the families still stranded on the mountain, the thousands of women and children
who remained in captivity, and what my brothers saw at the site of the massacre. I was only one of
hundreds of thousands of Yazidi victims. My community was scattered, living as refugees inside and
outside of Iraq, and Kocho was still occupied by Isis. There was so much the world needed to hear about
what was happening to Yazidis.
I wanted to tell them that so much more needed to be done. We needed to establish a safe zone for
religious minorities in Iraq; to prosecute Isis – from the leaders down to the citizens who had supported
their atrocities – for genocide and crimes against humanity; and to liberate all of Sinjar. I would have to
tell the audience about Hajji Salman and the times he raped me and all the abuse I witnessed.
Deciding to be honest was one of the hardest decisions I have ever made, and also the most important.
Murad won the Nobel Peace Price alongside Congolese gynecologist Denis Mukwege, who has treated
more than 50,000 victims of rape at Panzi Hospital in the Democratic Republic of Congo .
She founded Nadia’s Initiative organization,which helps Iraqi women and minorities.She donated her
$500,000 award money to victims of sex crimes.She said in her statement that she dedicated her award
to “Yazidis, Iraqis, Kurds, other persecuted minorities and all of the countless victims of sexual violence
around the world.”
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