Reality Worse Than A Nightmare
At a time when the world seems to be shouting out against sexual abuse and injustices done towards mankind, specifically women, at various stages of life, there could not have been better awardees of the Nobel Peace Prize Award 2018 than Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad. Both these stalwarts have indeed been an epitome of peace in the way they recognized and shouted out boldly against sexual violence prevalent in our society. While Denis Mukwege, a Congolese surgeon, has been treating wartime rape victims since years, Nadia Murad – a sexual violence activist – had herself been a sex slave of the Islamic State or ISIS.
Nadia Murad’s story is no less than a nightmare. Her story will send a chill down your spine. She lived a dreadful life for months, where she was rampantly raped and tortured. But, thanks to her sheer desire and luck, Nadia is here facing the world – not only to tell her story but also to help others sharing her plight in some way or the other.
Nadia Murad – From A Village Simpleton To An ISIS Sex Slave
All of 25 years of age, Nadia Murad has experienced the worst that life had to offer. The pale thin woman, whose eyes give assurance to thousands of sex slave victims, as well as tell innumerable harrowing tales of injustice and crime, once lived a quiet and pleasant life in her village in Sinjar, northern Iraq. She belongs to the prominent Yezidi tribe of the area, that lies close to Iraq’s border with Syria.
Life was quite normal for her till the day in August 2014, when a truck bearing ISIS flags swept across her village, Kojo, killing men like mosquitoes and captivating the children to train them as future ISIS giants. The women were kept as hostages – who would be required to satiate their thirst for lust and sex whenever any of the ISIS men felt like it. She was sold numerous times among the ISIS brethren and was sexually violated and tortured, paying no heed to her cries and prayers.
Talking about her life in Kojo to TIME, Nadia Murad recapitulated her times in her generally peaceful village. Her family comprised of her mother, her father and her siblings – all of whom were spending quiet and peaceful lives. She was a student when the dreaded day came. History was her favourite subject, and she dreamed of opening a beauty salon in her village one day. In fact, she was so aloof from all the worldly woes, she admitted to having no idea about what ISIS was, despite living a few hundred kilometres from Syria. “I did not know anything about what ISIS was or what it was going to do.”
However, she soon started seeing the ISIS fighters on TV but, had no idea that they would shatter their lives into pieces. Soon, in August 2014, she saw the fighters in her village. It was on August 15, when all the villagers were asked by the ISIS fighters to march towards the school during lunchtime, which was on the outskirts of their village. On their way, Nadia and her family saw ISIS fighters “everywhere…on the houses, on the streets, there were a lot of them.”
As she recounted her harrowing story, we were told that the men were separated from the women in the school building. Soon, within an hour, the ISIS shot dead 312 men, that included six of her brothers and step-brothers. Along with them, 80 women were also shot dead – the reason was pretty simple: they were too old to be considered desirable for sexual liaisons.
Nadia Murad’s Life As A Sex Slave In Mosul
Among the ones who remained in the camp alive, most of them were taken to Mosul (a city in Iraq), where within three days they were “distributed” among the ISIS soldiers. They were tortured to the extent that Nadia saw some women messing up their hair or even pouring battery acid on their faces to look less appealing to their predators, thinking they would be bereft from being raped for a night.
Alas, that was never to happen. Nadia and her niece, who had also faced the same ordeal, saw numerous women slitting their wrists and jumping off bridges, for death seemed less daunting to them than living that life. Nadia recapitulated how a room upstairs in the house, where she was kept, was smeared with blood all over – two women had taken their lives.
However, never for once did Nadia wanted to kill herself. On the other hand, she wished day and night for her death – “I did not want to kill myself – but I wanted them to kill me,” said she.
Did the soldiers not get bored of bedding the same woman day and night? Of course, and that is why there would be “courts” where the slaves would be bartered among the soldiers. Nadia, while talking with TIME, described a night when she was forced into a room with six militants – all of whom had rampant sex with her till she fell unconscious.
Finally, Nadia Broke Off Her Captivity – But Is She Home In Her New Abode?
After months of abuse, that she describes was tortuous than death, Nadia was finally able to free herself from captivity. This happened one night in November of the same year when her “lord” had mistakenly left her room open. She snuck out of the room and found refuge in the house of the neighbours, who transported her to a refugee camp. From there, she was soon selected for a programme that takes refugees to Germany.
She is now a resident of Stuttgart, but does she feels at home here? In her interview, she said, “I left everyone, all the family members who are still in the camps, I left them… But it’s better than the poverty and suffering that people endure in the camps.”
The Epilogue – A Brief About Yazidi, The Tribe Which Murad Belonged To
Islam does not recognize slavery. So, why did the ISIS – who mostly prays five times a day – choose to target the peace-loving Yazidi tribe? According to Nadia, ISIS had killed nearly 230,000 Yedizi people in her area – the reason behind this being the fact that Yazidis do not follow Islam. They are recognized prominently as kafirs or non-believers, which put them in the volatile terrain of being tortured and violated at will by the ISIS predators.
The incident that happened in 2014 is widely thought of as one of the worst genocides conducted by the ISIS. More than 5,200 Yezidis were abducted in 2014 – most of whom are still under their wrathful captivity.
TIME says, “Even worse, ISIS has revived the institutional practice of slavery within its so-called caliphate, condoning the systematic rape and sexual enslavement of non-Muslim women. This practice is not only allowed inside ISIS, but it is also actively encouraged, and some survivors have reported that ISIS fighters believe that if a woman is raped by 10 Muslims, she will become converted.”
Nadia Murad is one of the luckiest persons on earth right now, to have escaped the wrathful clutches of the inhumane ISIS militants. However, her fight for justice has not ended – rather, it had just started. She has now become a global voice, championing for the Yezidi women and their basic right to live. The 25-year-old is now engaged to fellow Yezidi activist Abid Shamdeen, and they wish to continue their struggle together as a unit – and help every Yezidi person from ISIS. “The struggle of our people brought us together & we will continue this path together,” she wrote.