In 2016, Nadia Murad escaped the clutches of the Islamic State in Iraq, whose troops had kidnapped her and kept her in confinement. Murad is a member of the Yazidi community, against whom the IS has been waging war and performing human rights atrocities of the most violent kind.

The IS has long weaponised sexual violence, and Murad was a victim of this, like many others. After her courageous escape, Murad went on to become a human rights activist, and was appointed Goodwill Ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking of the United Nations.

Her personal courage and the work she has done since then has been acknowledged in the form of the Nobel Peace Prize for 2018, which she was jointly with Denis Mukwege “for their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict”.

This is what the announcement of the prize had to say about Murad.

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. She has shown uncommon courage in recounting her own sufferings and speaking up on behalf of other victims.

Nadia Murad is a member of the Yazidi minority in northern Iraq, where she lived with her family in the remote village of Kocho. In August 2014 the Islamic State (IS) launched a brutal, systematic attack on the villages of the Sinjar district, aimed at exterminating the Yazidi population. In Nadia Murad’s village, several hundred people were massacred. The younger women, including underage children, were abducted and held as sex slaves. While a captive of the IS, Nadia Murad was repeatedly subjected to rape and other abuses. Her assaulters threatened to execute her if she did not convert to their hateful, inhuman version of Islam.

Nadia Murad is just one of an estimated 3,000 Yazidi girls and women who were victims of rape and other abuses by the IS army. The abuses were systematic, and part of a military strategy. Thus they served as a weapon in the fight against Yazidis and other religious minorities. 

This is Nadia Murad’s story, in her own words.