Born into a family of farmers in the village of Kojo in Sinjar, Northern Iraq, Nadia Murad’s life was upended in 2014 when ISIS rampaged across northern Iraq.
At the age of just 19, and hailing from Iraq’s Yazidi minority, she was captured alongside thousands of other Yazidis. While the women were enslaved by their captors, the men were executed. Six of her brothers were killed.
For a year she was held in the city of Mosul, subjected to daily beatings and frequent rape at the hands of her captors. She escaped in 2015 with the help of some neighbours who smuggled her to a refugee camp outside of ISIS-held territory.
Remarkably, within weeks of her flight she recollected the details of her experience to the United Nations Security Council in December 2015. The painful details touched those who heard it and she has retold her story around the world since, in the hope that such a tragedy may never again take place.
Through her advocacy since escaping, she has served as the face of Yazidi suffering at the hands of ISIS. She testified before the British and European parliaments. Her efforts were lauded by former US Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, and former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
The Nobel Prize Committee said she had demonstrated “uncommon courage in recounting her own suffering”.
She has since founded Nadia's Initiative, an advocacy organisation working to protect the rights of women and minorities in Iraq, and written a memoir, The Last Girl: My Story of Captivity, and My Fight Against the Islamic State. In 2016, she was named the UN's first Goodwill Ambassador Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking.
Now looking for justice, she has joined up with high profile barrister Amal Clooney, with a view to bringing senior ISIS members to trial for their crimes against Yazidi women.
In August, she announced her engagement to fellow Yezidi activist Abid Shamdeen. "The struggle of our people brought us together & we will continue this path together,” the pair stated.
Last year Ms Murad made an emotional return to Kojo. "We hoped our fate would be to be killed like the men instead of being sold and raped by Syrians, Iraqis ... Tunisians and Europeans", she said, standing at the village school where she herself had studied.
Her story is horrifying, but it is all too common among the region’s Yazidi community. Thousands of Yazidis taken by ISIS remain missing and Ms Murad has stressed she will not rest as long as their fate remains unknown.
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