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Nadia Murad: The woman who refuses to be silenced

By Rediff Get Ahead
Last updated on: October 08, 2018 12:35 IST
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'I'll never forget how my mother looked that day, her white headscarf pushed back, her hair wild and messy.'
'Without saying a word, she rested her head on my lap. When one of the men grabbed me and tore me away from her, I screamed and begged.'
'The last thing I heard my mother say was 'I am going to die.' I never saw her again.'
'Girls like me were loaded onto buses. The bus was eerily quiet as we drove.'
'All I could hear were the footsteps of another militant pacing the aisles.'
'He seemed to enjoy his job, stopping to taunt the girls, groping their breasts, and laughing as though amused by their panic.'
'Suddenly, I felt a hand on my shoulder. I closed my eyes, praying the militant would go away, but his hand moved down the front of my dress and stopped on my breast. It felt like fire.'
Nobel Peace Prize 2018 winner Nadia Murad survived human trafficking, captivity and rape. Her fight against Islamic State will go down in history.

IMAGE: Nadia Murad has shown tremendous courage in speaking up against ISIS, on behalf of herself and all the murderous group's other victims as well. Photograph: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

The Nobel Peace Prize 2018 has been awarded jointly to two courageous campaigners against rape in warfare, Nadia Murad and Denis Mukwege.

At 25, Nadia is the second youngest winner of the Nobel Peace Prize after Malala Yousafzai.

The award is a recognition of Nadia's efforts to 'end the use of sexual violence as a weapon in war'.

'The pair (Nadia and Denis) made a crucial contribution to focusing attention on, and combating, such war crimes,' Berit Reiss-Andersen, the Nobel committee chair, said.

Nadia has also been awarded the European Union's Sakharov Human Rights Prize and the Council of Europe's Vaclav Havel Human Rights Prize.

IMAGE: This photograph was taken on her engagement day. Her fiance Abid Shamdeen is a human rights activist. Photograph: Kind courtesy Nadia Murad/Twitter

A Yazidi survivor of genocide/human trafficking, Nadia is the United Nations's first goodwill ambassador for survivors of human trafficking and the author of The Last Girl.

A sex slave for three months at the hands of Islamic State's murderous gangsters, Nadia has lost count of the number of times she was bought, sold and subjected to sexual and physical abuse.

In November 2014, after she escaped, she became an activist for the Yazidi people.

Her dream is to help put an end to human trafficking. She has been calling governments to take a tougher line on rape as a weapon of war.

'I met Nadia Murad just the day after she managed to escape from Mosul,' tweeted BBC Persian's Nafiseh Kohnavard.

Tweeting an image of the first time she met Nadia, Nafiseh added: 'I told her we can film the interview anonymously but she refused. 'No let the world see what happened to us,' she said. She is now a Nobel Peace Prize winner.'

Nadia at the Glamour Celebrates 2017 Women Of The Year Live Summit. Photograph: Ilya S Savenok/Getty Images

August 3, 2014, will forever be etched in Nadia's memory.

It was the day she was abducted from her village, Kocho, in Sinjar, northern Iraq, after it was attacked by ISIS terrorists.

Nadia belongs to the Yazidi community. ISIS bandits captured her sisters along with her mother and six brothers, who are no longer alive.

The village's men were killed. Those women, who were considered too old be sexually exploited, met the same fate.

Despite being repeatedly raped and subjected to other terrifying abuse, Nadia survived to tell the world about the horrors inflicted on her people by a group of murderers who wanted to establish an Islamic caliphate.

Her powerful speech to the UN in 2016 bears witness to the horror she lived.

'Before ISIS came to my village, there was nothing more important to me than my dignity... than my mother, my dear mother.

'Although she is now gone, my dear mother is with me today in soul and in spirit.

'She, along with my brothers and so many others, left this world too soon.

'My life as a simple Yazidi farm girl is gone forever. The hopes of my whole community are gone.

'The night of August 3, 2014, everything changed. They came to kidnap, murder and rape. This was genocide.

'It is that simple. In a matter of days, if not hours, thousands of Yazidis were killed and thousands of women and children were taken.

'I was taken to Mosul with others. I was used in the way they wanted to use me. I was not alone.

'But perhaps I was the lucky one. As time passed, I found a way to escape, which thousand others have still not found. They are still captive.'

Photograph: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
'My story, told honestly and matter-of-factly, is the best weapon I have against terrorism, and I plan on using it until those terrorists are put on trial. There is still so much that needs to be done.'

After a three-month nightmare -- during which she was raped on a daily basis, deprived of food and physically, verbally and mentally abused -- Nadia escaped with the help of an organisation that assists Yazidis.

She reached Germany, where she lives now in a tiny apartment.

'I sleep beneath large photos of my mother and my niece, who are both gone,' the braveheart wrote in her book.

'I wear necklaces that spell out the names of the dead and I pray every day for the safe return of the missing.

'I still dream about Kocho and, every morning, I wake up and remember that it no longer exists as I knew it.

'It's a strange, hollow feeling; longing for a lost place makes you feel like you, too, have disappeared.'

In 2016, Nadia was named the UN's first Goodwill Ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking.

Her 'uncommon courage in recounting her own suffering' will serve as an inspiration for women across the world.

She has now dedicated her time to an organisation called Our Peoples' Fight, which she has founded.

'Every time I tell my story, I feel that I am taking some power away from those men -- and the women who supported them,' she says in an excerpt from her book.

'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 escape or that we would have the courage to tell the world every detail of what they did to us.

'My story, told honestly and matter-of-factly, is the best weapon I have against terrorism, and I plan on using it until those terrorists are put on trial. There is still so much that needs to be done.'

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