Nadia Murad, joint winner of the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize, is a Yazidi human rights activist and survivor of sexual slavery at the hands of ISIS in Iraq.
She has used her traumatic experience — kidnapped, enslaved and raped by ISIS fighters in Mosul in 2014 — to become an advocate for the Yazidi minority in Iraq and for the wider issues of refugees’ and women’s rights.
Her ordeal began in 2014 after ISIS militants arrived at her village of Kocho in Iraqi Kurdistan. Her mother and six of her nine brothers and step-brothers were executed, while many of the unmarried women in the village were taken as sex slaves and passed around the militants.
In a previous interview with CNN, she recalled the horrors of August 3, 2014: “Nearly 6,500 women and children from the Yazidi were abducted and about 5,000 people from the community were killed during that day. For eight months, they separated us from our mothers and our sisters and our brothers, and some of them were killed and others disappeared.”
Born in 1993, she was a high school student when ISIS militants overran her village. She had hoped to become a history teacher or makeup artist. Instead, her life was brutally torn apart by militants intent on ridding Iraq of all Yazidis. She eventually escaped to Mosul where a Muslim family helped her obtain fake Islamic identification that enabled her to escape ISIS territory.
Murad has previously won the Vaclav Havel Human Rights Prize, the Sakharov Prize, the Clinton Global Citizen Award and the Peace Prize from the United Nations Association of Spain. She has published a New York Times bestselling memoir titled “The Last Girl.”
In 2016, at age 23, she was named the United Nations’ first goodwill ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking. That same year she urged the US Congress to fight the terror group more aggressively, declaring: “Daesh will not give up their weapons unless we force them to give up their weapons… The Yazidi people cannot wait.”
A year earlier she addressed the UN Security Council, describing how she had been gang raped for a failed escape attempt. All of this, she said, was considered legal under ISIS rule — which dictates that Yazidis, because they do not practice Islam, can be taken as slaves on religious grounds.
“They sold girls, girls that were underage, because ISIS considered that permissible under Islamic law,” she said. “They came not just to attack certain people, but they came for all Yazidis.”