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(Katie Booth/Women in the World)


Watch Yazidi activist and sex slavery survivor Nadia Murad’s powerful message to ISIS

By Cynthia Allum and Jennifer Perry on April 28, 2016

Nadia Murad Basee Taha possesses the distinct blend of energy and exhaustion that emanates from relentless crusaders. It is a jarring juxtaposition, to see the 23-year-old woman from Sinjar sitting in a sun-dappled New York City skyscraper, coolly conversing in Kurmanji about the shocking genocide she witnessed just a few years ago after ISIS abruptly seized her village in northern Iraq.

In 2014, when Murad was 19 years old, members of the Islamic State captured her town and commenced their brutal and deadly onslaught. Since then, she has shared countless nightmarish tales from her subsequent enslavement, including her chilling experiences witnessing mass executions, being held captive with over 5,000 other Yazidis, being gang-raped as a sex slave by jihadi fighters, and having six siblings killed within the span of a single hour. In one instance, inside of a car, she boldly asked ISIS fighters why they were groping her. They said she was their “sabaya,” or, essentially, their slave. (Religious differences have made many ISIS fighters believe that Yazidi women belong to them; it’s the radical creed that fuels their thriving supply of sex slaves.) After less than three months in captivity and a niqab-assisted escape, Murad returned to freedom. Since then, she has committed her life to demand justice for those who weren’t as fortunate to flee.

As a fearless voice for the thousands of women who are still helpless at the hands of ISIS extremists, Murad has pushed for change at the United Nations, met with the president of Egypt, and visited refugees and migrants in Greece. She was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in January by the Iraqi government for spotlighting the modern massacre. More recently, she was named one of TIME’s 100 Most Influential People for, as Eve Ensler aptly put it, being “a beacon of light and truth.”

Despite the international attention, Murad seems exasperated by the slow progress of change. The press portrays her as a fierce example for the world, but she wonders if the world is following her lead. She’s prone to ask aloud why ISIS still hasn’t been brought to justice. She’s tirelessly battling a seemingly interminable fight, simply to hold accountable those who have captured, raped and executed women. Pointing to the recent attacks in Europe, Murad describes how terrorism has managed to stretch its insidious tentacles around the globe. She’s curious to know why world leaders continue to debate this issue, in spite of her urgent demands for the immediate elimination of ISIS. Considering the number of times she has shared her horrific stories, her frustration is understandable — even contagious.

As someone who believes we are all citizens of humanity, Murad asks Westerners for stronger support to save her sisters in the Middle East. Raising awareness about the estimated 3,500 women and children who still remain in captivity is one way to highlight the issue. NGOs that aid Yazidi victims, like Yazda and Free Yezidi Foundation, could also use extra assistance. There’s also a petition to push the International Criminal Court to begin identifying those responsible for the genocide. While Murad makes more strides to champion for Yazidi rights, you can follow, fund, or fortify her mission via social media: @NadiaMuradBasee.

Until other slaves are freed, Murad will clutch onto her vision of justice. By pressing for change and risking her life to right a tremendous wrong, Nadia Murad Basee Taha is a fierce testament to the tenacity, and resilience, of women in war.


Women aim to bring ISIS to justice with their stories of captivity, torture and daring escape

Yazidis in the face of rape, enslavement: “We will not die … we will live”

Stunning profiles tell tales of Yazidi women who escaped ISIS

Dungeon uncovered where ISIS imprisoned Yazidi women

The Kurdish female soldiers fighting ISIS: “I like that when we kill them they lose their heaven.”