All About 24-Year-Old Nobel Peace Prize Winner Nadia Murad
Oct 5, 2018
Yazidi human rights activist Nadia Murad has already earned countless accolades for her advocacy for victims of sexual violence around the world. But on Oct. 5, Murad joins the ranks of Malala Yousafzai, Mother Teresa, and more as the 17th woman to win the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize and the first Iraqi in its 117-year history.
The 24-year-old activist has fought for survivors of sexual violence, forcing world leaders to recognize—and reprimand—how sexual assault and rape are used as weapons of war around the world.
Her advocacy starts with her own unimaginable story: On August 3, 2014, Islamic State militants raided her village of Kocho in Iraqi Kurdistan. Only 21 at the time, she dreamed of being a teacher or opening a beauty salon until her village, her family, and her freedom were ripped away from her.
"6,500 women and children from the Yazidi were abducted and about 5,000 people from the community were killed during that day," Murad recalls in an interview with CNN. Murad, herself, lost her mother and six brothers and stepbrothers after ISIS executed them for refusing to convert to Islam.
Murad and thousands of other Yazidi women were taken to Mosul where they all became sex slaves who were raped on a daily basis. "At some point, there was rape and nothing else. This becomes your normal day," Murad wrote in her 2017 memoir "The Last Girl." After months of being sold off and sexually abused repeatedly, Murad was able to sneak out of the compound where she was held captive and with the help of a Muslim family she reached a refugee camp and later found safety in Europe.
Since escaping in November 2014, Murad has refused to shy away from the atrocities and horrors of her experience. Instead, she tells her harrowing story to fight for women and the estimated 3,000 Yazidi people still in captivity by the Islamic State. The Ryot documentary "On Her Shoulders" follows Murad's tireless work with Amal Clooney to bring "ISIS before the International Criminal Court on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity."
"They sold girls, girls that were underage because ISIS considered that permissible under Islamic law," the 24-year-old activist told CNN. "They came not just to attack certain people, but they came for all Yazidis."
Appearing before the international audiences on BBC, world leaders at the United Nations, and even the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill, Murad has unapologetically recounted her own story of being kidnapped, enslaved, tortured, and raped by ISIS fighters and challenged her audiences to step up and take action against these atrocities.
Her voice has been heard by many. By relentlessly telling her story, she refuses to let world leaders turn a blind eye to the way women are used as weapons of war. Murad has earned praise from global leaders like German Prime Minister Angela Merkel who passed legislation to open Germany's doors to more than 1,000 Yazidi women and children and even MAKER Hillary Clinton who worked to change the way Americans viewed human trafficking with former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.
I met Nadia Murad just the day after she managed to escape from #Mosul. 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 noble peace prize winner. #Yazidi#Izadi#NadiaMuradpic.twitter.com/QMcvrH6UZB— Nafiseh Kohnavard (@nafisehkBBC) October 5, 2018
At a time when survivors of sexual violence continue to be faced with ridicule, skepticism, and shame, the Yazidi activist tearfully recounts the unimaginable brutalities she faced as a sex slave again and again with one purpose in mind: to ensure that she is "the last girl in the world with a story like mine." Now with a Nobel Peace Prize now in hand, her work demanding justice for survivors of sexual assault and genocide will never be forgotten as well.