Woman who survived kidnapping by ISIS wins human rights prize

STRASBOURG, France, A Yazidi woman who escaped from the Islamic State after she was kidnapped in Iraq was awarded the Václav Havel Human Rights Prize on Monday, European leaders announced at a meeting.

Nadia Murad, at right, was presented with the 2016 Václav Havel Human Rights Prize by Pedro Agramunt, president of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, on Monday for her work to raise awareness of the Islamic State’s network of sex slaves. Murad and her family were kidnapped from northern Iraq in 2014 by members of the militant group. Murad escaped to Germany after three months of abuse and started telling the world about the horrors she’d seen and experienced. Photo by Council of Europe

Nadia Murad was awarded the prize at a ceremony before the opening of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe Monday for her work as a human rights activist since escaping from the militant group.

“We cannot have terrorist groups, barbarians, massacring whole peoples, destroying civilizations and cultures, because all people must be able to determine their own lives and nobody should seek to impose their ideas on anyone else,” Murad told European lawmakers during a nine-minute speech to accept the award. “We need to have religious freedom, we must accept difference wherever it arises and we must make sure that all parliaments are aware of what happened to us.”

Murad, her siblings and her mother were taken by militants from the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, ISIL and Daesh, in 2014 when the group overran the Yazidi village in northern Iraq she is from. Murad escaped ISIS three months after being taken with thousands of other women and children, making it to Germany.

Since her escape, Murad has worked to spread awareness of the thousands of women and girls as young as 8 years old being forced into a network of sex slaves, in addition to other abuses the militant group has committed against the Yazidi people.

Murad also has been named the first United Nations Goodwill Ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking, and was a candidate for the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize

By Stephen Feller