Nadia Murad is a 24-years-old public advocate for the Yazidi community. She was among the thousands of Yazidi women who were abducted and enslaved by the Islamic State (IS). She was brutally raped by more than 12 IS members and spent approximately one month in ISIS captivity. This includes an initial period when Nadia’s village was under an ISIS siege; 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 has suffered the loss of her six brothers who were slaughtered by IS in the Kocho massacre. Nadia’s mother was murdered along with 80 elderly Yazidi women because IS did not view them as “sexually attractive.”
Nadia belongs to the Yazidi religion that is found in parts of Iraq, Syria, and Turkey; this ancient faith preserves indigenous pre-Islamic and pre-Zoroastrian motifs and practices. Not recognized as “people of the book” by Islamic law, the Yazidis have been targeted over many centuries by several genocidal campaigns. Yet, they persevere and survive in their mountainous homelands. In recent times, however, political pressures have almost eliminated the Yazidi presence in Turkey, and the IS genocide of August 3, 2014 threatens the future of the Yazidi people in Iraq.
Nadia grew up in Kocho, Iraq. Kocho is a quiet agricultural village that had good relations with its neighbors, both Christian and Muslim (Arab, Kurdish, and Turkmen). Nadia attended secondary school and hoped to become a make up artist or history teacher or doctor who could better serve her community. But this peaceful life was ruined forever and her dreams were shattered after IS attacked her homeland in Sinjar and tried to ethnically cleanse Iraq of all Yazidis.