Iraqi survivor of ISIL slavery named UN goodwill ambassador

Nadia Murad Basee Taha was bought and sold to be used for sex by ISIL . Now she wants justice for all victims like her.
Nadia Murad Bansee Taha, a Yazidi woman from Iraq who was trafficked as a sex slave to ISIL militants,  speaking at the state parliament in Hanover, Germany  on May 31, 2016.  She was appointed goodwill ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking by the UN office on drugs and crime (UNODC) on September 16, 2016 , the first time a survivor of atrocities is bestowed with this distinction.  Julian Stratenschulte / EPA
Nadia Murad Bansee Taha, a Yazidi woman from Iraq who was trafficked as a sex slave to ISIL militants, speaking at the state parliament in Hanover, Germany on May 31, 2016. She was appointed goodwill ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking by the UN office on drugs and crime (UNODC) on September 16, 2016 , the first time a survivor of atrocities is bestowed with this distinction. Julian Stratenschulte / EPA

NEW YORK // A young Iraqi woman who survived rape and abuse as an ISIL sex slave has become a UN goodwill ambassador for the dignity of survivors of human trafficking.

Nadia Murad Basee Taha, a 23-year-old Yazidi woman, called for justice for the victims of the extremist group and argued that the 2014 attack on the Yazidis should be recognised as a genocide.

Ms Murad was taken from her home village of Kocho near Iraq’s northern town of Sinjar in August 2014 and brought to ISIL-controlled Mosul, where she was gang-raped, and bought and sold many times.

“I was used in the way that they wanted to use me. I was not alone,” Ms Murad said during a ceremony at UN headquarters on Friday.

“Perhaps I was the lucky one. As time passed, I found a way to escape where thousands others could not. They are still captive.”

Her voice trembling, Ms Murad called for the release of some 3,200 Yazidi women and girls still being held as sex slaves by ISIL fighters and for the captors to face justice.

“My real fear is that once ISIL is defeated, ISIL militants, ISIL terrorists will just shave off their beards and walk the streets of the cities as if nothing as happened,” she said.

“We cannot let this happen.”

She said her hope was that one day, Yazidi victims would be able to look “our abusers in the eye before a court in The Hague and tell the world what they have done to us, so that our community can heal”.

As a goodwill ambassador, Ms Murad will focus on raising awareness of the plight of victims of trafficking, especially refugees, women and girls.

She is represented by international lawyer Amal Clooney, who said ISIL must be held accountable for grave crimes.

“We know that what we have before us is genocide, and we know that it is still ongoing,” said Mrs Clooney.

“I am ashamed as a human being that we ignore their cries for help,” she said, drawing applause.

As world leaders gather at the UN headquarters in New York next week for the annual general assembly, Iraq and Britain will on Monday launch a campaign to push for accountability for crimes committed by ISIL.

Ms Murad and Mrs Clooney are to attend the event along with Britain’s foreign secretary Boris Johnson.

* Agence France-Presse

Published: September 17, 2016 04:00 AM

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