Nadia Murad is a 24-year-old Yazidi woman who advocates on behalf of her community and survivors of genocide. She was among the thousands of Yazidi women who were abducted and enslaved by the self-proclaimed Islamic State (ISIS). She was repeatedly raped and spent approximately one month in captivity. This includes an initial period when Nadia’s village was under siege by ISIS; a second period when she was held as a sexual slave at different ISIS sites; and a final short period in which Nadia was in hiding in a family home in the ISIS-controlled territory until she was able to escape. Nadia suffered the loss of six of her nine brothers who were slaughtered by ISIS in the Kocho massacre. Thousands of Yazidi men and older Yazidi women were murdered including Nadia's mother.
Nadia practices the Yazidi religion, which is indigenous to northern Iraq and also found in parts of Syria and Turkey. This ancient faith preserves pre-Islamic and pre-Zoroastrian traditions. Not recognized as “people of the book” by Islamic Law, the Yazidis have repeatedly faced genocidal campaigns and discrimination over many centuries. Brutal treatment drove them into their mountainous homelands where they persevered in relative isolation. In recent times, political pressures have almost eliminated the Yazidi presence in Turkey.
The ISIS genocide that began on August 3, 2014, now threatens the future of the Yazidi people in Iraq. Nadia grew up in the Iraqi village of Kocho, a quiet agricultural area that had good relations with its neighbors, both Christian and Muslim (Arab, Kurdish, and Turkmen). Nadia attended secondary school and hoped to become a history teacher or make-up artist. Her peaceful life was savagely interrupted when ISIS attacked her homeland in Sinjar with in the intention of ethnically cleansing Iraq of all Yazidis.
Nadia is a nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize, the recipient of the Vaclav Havel Human Rights Prize, the Sakharov Prize, and the UN's first Goodwill Ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking. She also received the Clinton Global Citizen Award and the Peace Prize from the United Nations Association of Spain. She has published a New York Times Bestselling memoir titled The Last Girl in multiple languages in order to share her story and advocate for other survivors, including those still in captivity.