Nadia Murad was born and raised in the quiet agricultural village of Kocho, Iraq – Yazidis and other communities lived harmoniously as neighbors. A member of the Yazidi community, she and her family – comprising many brothers and sisters - lived a peaceful, happy life. Nadia was in secondary school and had dreams of becoming a history teacher and a make-up artist.
Nadia’s peaceful existence ended on August 3, 2014, when the so-called Islamic State (ISIS), attacked her village, beginning its savage genocidal campaign against the Yazidi people. Six of Nadia’s nine brothers were executed on the spot. Nadia, along with her two sisters and thousands of other women and children, were taken captive and subjected to unspeakable crimes. The captives were given a choice – convert to Islam or be executed. Along with forced conversion, the young girls were enslaved and endured sexual violence and trafficking, and sometimes forced marriage. Nadia was only 21 years old. She and her two sisters were enslaved; their mother was executed as she was considered too old for sexual enslavement.
Nadia was initially held hostage in a building with thousands of families. She witnessed young children given to ISIS soldiers as gifts. The first man that approached Nadia to take her was significantly older and large in size. Resisting, Nadia insisted that she was too young, an act for which she received a brutal physical punishment. Nadia was raped and tortured on a daily basis and when she was caught trying to escape she was severely beaten.
After enduring this unimaginable brutality, Nadia was finally able to escape.
Nadia immigrated to Germany where she received medical attention and was reunited with other survivors. Around 18 members of Nadia’s family were either murdered or are missing. With the assistance of Yazda, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping Yazidi survivors and defend the rights of marginalized ethnic and religious minorities, Nadia has been able to tell her story on the world stage, forcing global leaders to listen to the horrors of the ongoing genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. Nadia was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize and has been appointed as the United Nations Goodwill Ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking.
Nadia’s Initiative is dedicated to helping women and children who have survived genocide, mass atrocities and human trafficking to heal and to have a role in re-building their lives and their communities.We promise to be a global voice for survivors and ensure victims of mass atrocities, sexual enslavement and human trafficking have a voice on the world stage. Our commitment to stand before global leaders and force the world to listen will remain steadfast. Those who commit heinous crimes must be brought to justice so that women and children can live in peace, not only in Iraq, but in Syria, Nigeria, Somalia, Libya, Yemen and other communities throughout the world.