Please note: This contains graphic descriptions and may be upsetting to some readers.
Nadia Murad was living a quiet life in Northern Iraq in 2014 when an unimaginable terror suddenly took it all away. ISIS jihadists kidnapped Murad and forced her into sex trafficking.
Murad, now 25, was recently awarded the 2018 Noble Peace Prize jointly with Congolese gynecologist Denis Mukwege. He is also an activist against sexual violence and specializes in treating women who were raped by rebel forces. Murad received the award for her activism against sex trafficking.
She was 19 when ISIS militants attacked the Yazidi community in her village, killing six of her brothers and stepbrothers in a massacre that left 600 people dead. Her mother was also killed.
Murad was repeatedly beaten, raped, and burned with cigarettes.
The Guardian published a segment from Murad’s book “The Last Girl: My Story of Captivity and My Fight Against the Islamic State.”
In her book, Murad tells how it began:
…We could hear the commotion downstairs where militants were registering and organizing, and when the first man entered the room, all the girls started screaming. It was like the scene of an explosion. We moaned as though wounded, doubling over and vomiting on the floor, but none of it stopped the militants. They paced around the room, staring at us, while we screamed and begged. They gravitated toward the most beautiful girls first, asking, ‘How old are you?’ and examining their hair and mouths. ‘They are virgins, right?’ they asked a guard, who nodded and said, “Of course!” like a shopkeeper taking pride in his product. Now the militants touched us anywhere they wanted, running their hands over our breasts and our legs, as if we were animals.
Some of the girls and women threw themselves over their friends and sisters in an attempt to protect them, she wrote.
One of the militants yelled at Murad to “Stand up!” He forcefully kicked her when she didn’t.
“His eyes were sunk deep into the flesh of his wide face, which seemed to be nearly entirely covered in hair. He didn’t look like a man – he looked like a monster,” Murad wrote.
How did she get away?
Following her year-and-a-half ordeal as a sex trafficking victim, Murad was able to escape while she was being transported out of Iraq. In early 2015, she went to Germany seeking refuge. A few months later, Murad began campaigning to raise awareness about human trafficking, the Guardian reported.
Speaking before a United Nations panel, Murad explained the part of the levity of what she witnessed:
“…the children who died of dehydration fleeing Isis, the families still stranded on the mountain, the thousands of women and children who remained in captivity, and what my brothers saw at the site of the massacre. I was only one of hundreds of thousands of Yazidi victims.”