The Nobel Foundation announced on Friday that Nadia Murad, a Yazidi woman who was captured by ISIS in 2014 and held as a sex slave for three months before managing to escape, was a recipient of the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize along with Congolese physician Denis Mukwege.
In its announcement, the Nobel Foundation said Murad and Mukwege were selected for the award “for their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict. Both laureates have made a crucial contribution to focusing attention on, and combating, such war crimes.”
In a statement posted on Twitter, Murad said she was” incredibly honored and humbled” to received the award and congratulated Mukwege on being recognized also. “I am grateful for this opportunity to draw international attention to the plight of the Yazidi people who have suffered unimaginable crimes,” she said. “I think of my mother, who was murdered by Daesh [ISIS], the children with whom I grew up, and what we must do to honor them.”
Murad, 25, is a survivor of ISIS atrocities. She was captured by militants in 2014 when the terror group stormed the Sinjar region of Iraq, where she was living with her family in Kocho, a remote village. ISIS militants slaughtered many Yazidis and enslaved others. Murad was forced to live as a sex slave and raped by more than 12 ISIS fighters over a period of three months until she was able to escape and flee to Germany. Since then, she’s been a courageous and outspoken advocate on behalf of the Yazidi people who were still being held by ISIS, advocating for the global community to do more to defeat ISIS. World renowned human rights attorney Amal Clooney represented Murad and the Yazidi women as ISIS was tried for genocide and sexual crimes against humanity before the International Criminal Court. “At a time when so many women’s voices are still silenced, Nadia’s has been heard around the world. This Nobel prize sends a message that survivors of sexual violence must not be ignored, and that their abusers must be held to account,” Clooney said in a statement provided to Women in the World.
In June 2017, Kocho was retaken from ISIS. Murad, surrounded by armed soldiers and news cameras, made her first visit back since fleeing the horror there. It was an emotional and painful homecoming for Murad, who broke down in tears. She visited her former school, where militants had abducted children. She was joined by her 30-year-old sister, Khayriyah, who was enslaved by ISIS for five months and also managed to escape.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided to award the Nobel Peace Prize for 2018 to Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad for their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict. #NobelPrize #NobelPeacePrize pic.twitter.com/LaICSbQXWM
— The Nobel Prize (@NobelPrize) October 5, 2018
Murad has told her story to Women in the World on multiple occasions. She sat down in our offices for a two-part interview in April 2016 to discuss her experience and her work as an advocate. Later that year she appeared onstage at the Women in the World London Forum where she was interviewed by Tina Brown in a conversation that captivated the live audience. “I’m from a farming family. We had a simple life. We were very poor, but we were very happy before Daesh came,” she said, using an alternate name for ISIS.
“I was one of the girls who were taken … over the age of 9. They took us to Mosul and in Mosul they separated us … and they committed all types of rape against us,” she said during the discussion with Brown. “They killed the men [who refused to convert to Islam],” she went on to explain. “About 1,700 men were killed.” Murad again joined Women in the World as the key note interview at the annual Women of Impact dinner with Credit Suisse in Davos in 2017.
Mukwege, the founder of the Panzi Hospital of Bukavu, which was established in 1999, has treated thousands of victims of sexual violence over the last nearly two decades. He, too, has appeared on the Women in the World stage at the 2010 summit where he participated in a panel discussion led by Christiane Amanpour about rape being used as a weapon of war. Through an interpreter, Mukwege told of the horrors he’d witnessed for years — and how little was been done to stop the sexual violence at the time. “Denis Mukwege is the foremost, most unifying symbol, both nationally and internationally, of the struggle to end sexual violence in war and armed conflicts,” the Nobel Foundation said in its announcement. “His basic principle is that ‘justice is everyone’s business.'”
Below, watch Murad’s interview with Tina Brown in 2016. It begins at approximately the 15:20 mark of the Facebook video embedded below, and then watch her two-part interview at our offices beneath that.
Murad has been honored with numerous humanitarian awards in recent years and was named by the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime as a Goodwill Ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking — the first time a survivor of atrocities has been bestowed with this distinction. She has proven not only a survivor, but a symbol of hope for many who have suffered beyond what any human should have to go through.