Nadia Murad, 25, is an activist and the first Iraqi ever to win a Nobel Peace Prize for advocating peace by putting efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict. She is from a persecuted Yazidi religious minority in Iraq and also a former captive of ISIS. She along with 3,000 other women were captured Yazidi women were kidnapped and sold into sex slavery in 2014 by ISIS as a part of their genocidal campaign to wipe out the religious minority.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee said in a statement that they had chosen Nadia for her remarkable efforts and said “Nadia Murad is herself a victim of war crimes. She refused to accept the social codes that require women to remain silent and ashamed of the abuses to which they have been subjected,” the statement said. “She has shown uncommon courage in recounting her own sufferings and speaking up on behalf of other victims.”
Iraq has defeated ISIS in 2017 but the society has not restructured itself after the years of battling against the terrorist group. Nadia’s “powerful advocacy” as quoted by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres helped the UN lead to an investigation into ISIS’s possible war crimes.
Braham Salih, Iraq’s president congratulated Nadia on her courage and bravery and said that all victims of ‘terrorism’ are recognised by him . Nadia spoke to Reuters on Friday and said “I share this award with all Yazidis, with all the Iraqis, Kurds, and all the minorities and all survivors of sexual violence around the world”.
In her book “the Last Girl” Nadia wrote about the violence between communities in her village of Kocho and says “For at least the past ten years, since Iraqis had been thrust into a war with the Americans that started in 2003, then spiraled into more vicious local fights and eventually into full fledged terrorism, the distance between our homes had grown enormous” .
She recounted her ordeal in an op-ed of New York Times and said “Three years ago I was one of thousands of Yazidi women kidnapped by the Islamic State and sold into slavery. I endured rape, torture and humiliation at the hands of multiple militants before I escaped. I was relatively lucky; many Yazidis went through worse than I did and for much longer. Many are still missing. Many have been killed. Once I escaped, I felt that it was my duty to tell the world about the brutality of the Islamic State”.
Nadia is the first UN’s Goodwill Ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking in 2016. Sexual violence has been a important part of policy making in the western world but traditionally sexual violence or abuse is not reported by women as they would be mistreated – some punished by death, humiliation or with more violent behaviours exhibited onto to victims by family members or relatives as well.
It takes uncommon resolve and great amount of courage to speak about her ordeal and making it public, she chose to serve as an example that if a crime has been committed, the rightful measures must be taken to stop it – to speak is to spread awareness which is the most important resolve needed in regions torn by war.
The #MeToo campaign for instance has empowered women and men to show support for each other and increased recognition of victims of sexual assault. “I think there was a reason God helped me escape … and I don’t take my freedom for granted. The terrorists didn’t think that Yazidi girls would be able to leave them, or that we would have the courage to tell the world every detail of what they did to us, We defy them by not letting their crimes go unanswered. ” Nadia writes.