The week had been busy and Friday was here, I looked forward to a relaxing weekend. Ready to sort out a few tasks for the day, the TV was tuned to CNN and there written on the screen was – Breaking News- 2018 Nobel Peace Prize to be announced shortly. My interest was immediately turned on and I sat to follow the unfolding story. Soon Berit Reiss Anderson, the chairman Nobel Peace Prize committee, stood on the podium briefing press men and out came the names of two individuals who have been lending their voices and working hard at ending sexual violence and genocides – Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad. I wanted to know more about these two persons and so here I am getting ready to share a few of my findings on their stories in two separate posts.
I could never hope to capture their pain, agony, struggles and tireless efforts at mending others and speaking up to get the international community and everyone in the world to end this war crime – Sexual violence/rape as a tool for war.
But I’d like to simply share their work and story briefly in the bid to say, “I salute your courage; thank you for giving yourself so others can live in a safer world”.
As I watched a few video recordings that documented a few of Nadia’s speeches, advocacy campaigns and the film, “On her shoulders”; I got a glimpse of her personality and not just her picture. One can see and feel her pain as she struggled bravely to share her story and mostly appealed that something should be done to save the Yazidis from the Islamic State’s (ISIS) determination to eliminate her people. In the documentary film, “On her shoulders”, she wept and had to wipe away her tears so she could be strong for those who looked to her as a voice for their freedom. Tears welled up in my eyes too – there is no amount of telling that will ever be able to explain or paint the picture of what she and other girls must have gone through in the hands of their abductors; not to mention the pain of losing loved ones as well.
Nadia Murad Basee Taha was 19 years old when the Islamic State (ISIS) attacked her community and killed scores of people, abducting thousands of women and girls. Nadia was taken to the city of Mosul where her ISIS abductors did whatever they wished with her and others; she was beaten, tortured and raped. Three months later she managed to escape and ended up in a refugee camp and got lucky as one of those who benefited from the refugee program by Germany.
The horrific story of her experience in the hands of ISIS soon broke out and ever since Nadia Murad has been a voice speaking against the genocide of Yazidis and sex slavery as a weapon of war. She recounts her experience and remembers how her mother, brothers and many other families were murdered.
Tired of re-telling her story as reporters badged her with loads of questions about what happened Nadia In her words said: “Do not ask me questions about how I felt when I was raped but instead ask me about how to stop sexual violence; how women and girls can be protected from being used as sex slaves during wars. “I want justice for the Yazidis”
Nadia’s quest to draw the attention of everyone who can do something to end the plight of her people in the hands of ISIS led her to start the “Nadia Initiative”, to engage in advocacy and provide support for genocide victims in 2016.
At age 27, eight years later Nadia’s courageous efforts at ending genocide and sexual violence get her the prestigious award of 2018, Nobel Peace Prize jointly with Dr Denis Mukwege from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Her response to the award reveals a woman who is resilient in her mission to end the persecution of the Yazidi communities:
“I am incredibly honoured and humbled by their support and I share this award with Yazidis, Iraqis, Kurds, other persecuted minorities and all of the countless victims of sexual violence around the world:
“As a survivor, I am grateful for this opportunity to draw international attention to the plight of the Yazidi people who have suffered unimaginable crimes since the genocide by Daesh, which began in 2014. Many Yazidis will look upon this prize and think of family members that were lost, are still unaccounted for, and of the 1,300 women and children, which remain in captivity. Like many minority groups, the Yazidis, have carried the weight of historical persecution. Women, in particular, have suffered greatly as they have been, and continue to be the victims of sexual violence…” Nadia Murad. Click on this link to find her full statement”…
The Possibility of ending sex slavery and sexual violence as a weapon of war
I am reminded of a personal experience my mother shared with me many years ago. In her heydays as an adolescent just like Nadia, an inter-tribal conflict arose between our community and another. She and other young girls became a target as the conflict escalated; the warriors/fighters of each community would raid homes and carry away young girls like her to become brides of the warring men. My mother was hidden by her parents for a while but soon it became apparent that she was no longer safe. Lucky for her they managed to sneak her off to the city where it was safe. My mother who is now over 70 years was one of the lucky girls, some of her friend’s lives were changed forever as they did not escape.
Sexual violence as a weapon of war is as old as our great, great, great forefathers and mothers. Will this ever end? I believe the answer is to find preventive measures and resolutions to conflicts before they escalate into wars. I believe also that we humans must give room for others to live and be for we all deserve to live peaceably and flourish. great and mothers. Will this ever end? I believe the answer is to find preventive measures and resolutions to conflicts before they escalate into wars. I believe also that we humans must give room for others to live and be for we all deserve to live peaceably and flourish. Laws should also be put in place to punish perpetrators of such heinous crime.
Nadia’s dream and goal is aptly captured in the last line of her statement: “We must not only imagine a better future for women, children and persecuted minorities, but we must also work consistently to make it happen – prioritizing humanity, not war. work consistently to make it happen – prioritizing humanity, not war.
Insight to keywords
War Crime: Torture, inhumane conducts or acts carried during a war which is against international rules guiding wars.
Yazidi: a community of people in Iraq but Yazidis can also be found in Turkey, Iran, Syria and Georgia. They are a closely knitted community who believed differently from the Islamic communities where they are situated. Hence, the reason for the Islamic State attacks and attempts to destroy them.
Adebisi Adetunji (C) Founder Beehyve Empowerment and Development Initiative. Media content provider, Trainer & consultant-@debisibusybeemedia, Behavioral Change Radio Drama, Communication4Development, Social Media Influencer, Controller Programs (FRCN) Catch me on Twitter – @DebisiBusybee, Facebook & email – firstname.lastname@example.org