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Human rights activist Nadia Murad arrives at a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, June 21, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Human trafficking

ISIS survivor Nadia Murad turns harrowing personal suffering into humanitarian initiative

By WITW Staff on September 15, 2016

Nadia Murad Basee Taha, a 23-year-old Yazidi woman who survived sexual enslavement under ISIS and was announced as a United Nations Goodwill Ambassador on Friday in New York City, has announced a new initiative, dedicated to helping women and children victimized by genocide and crimes against humanity.

Nadia’s Initiative was unveiled at an event hosted by Women in the World founder and CEO Tina Brown, following a ceremony in the afternoon at which Murad was appointed U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime Goodwill Ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking — marking the first time a survivor of atrocities has been bestowed with this distinction.

The new advocacy organization — informed by Murad’s personal experience — will provide long term, holistic approaches to healing traumatized victims of mass atrocities, by developing and supporting field programs in the areas of healthcare, psychosocial support and education for women and children.

Murad’s world was rocked to its foundations on August 3, 2014, when ISIS militants attacked her peaceful village of Kocho, Iraq. Six of her nine brothers were killed on the spot, while Nadia  — along with her two sisters, her mother, and thousands of others, were taken captive. Then only 19, Murad and her two sisters became sex slaves and their mother — considered too old — was executed. She has spoken of seeing children given to ISIS soldiers as “sexual gifts,” and she was raped and tortured daily, and beaten frequently, until she managed to escape and make her way to Germany.

After receiving medical attention and being reunited with other survivors, Murad devoted her energy to assist other Yazidis who had similarly suffered, told her story on the world stage to raise awareness and solicit assistance, and has been supported by Amal Clooney in seeking justice before the International Criminal Court. (Clooney will attend Murad’s Friday induction as a U.N. Goodwill Ambassador.) Murad has also been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. “[Human] trafficking and mass enslavement have become a tool used by terrorists to humiliate societies and humanity at large,” Murad said in a statement, observing that women and children are disproportionately affected, and affirming her commitment to change.

Murad visited the offices of Women in the World in New York in April, where she discussed her capture, enslavement, the Yazidi genocide, and her vision of justice.