From a remote Yazidi village in the mountainous Sinjar district of Iraq to the gleaming UN headquarters in New York, it has been a very long and arduous journey for Nadia Murad.
But hers is a story of hope, of courage and tenacity, of the indomitable human spirit prevailing over all tribulations. For she is the first UN Goodwill Ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking, who is also a survivor of atrocities herself.
Murad was captured by Daesh (the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) in Iraq in 2014. Six of her brothers were murdered. The 23-year-old was abused sexually and physically during her years in captivity, and bought and sold several times by the terror group as a slave. One failed attempt at fleeing resulted in her being beaten up and gang-raped by six militants as a form of punishment. But then hope sprang — she managed to escape. And since then, Nadia Murad has been a vocal and relentless campaigner for the end of human trafficking.
Yet, Murad is among the luckier ones of the 5,000 Yazidi women taken captive when Daesh swept through the group’s territories in northern Iraq. Her horrific experience and the new UN honour is therefore an excellent opportunity for the international community to stand up firmly against all forms of trafficking, including by militant groups who justify any captives as spoils of war, and produce some tangible results.
While her role will focus on raising awareness on the plight of human trafficking victims, the world needs to do more than advocacy. This should be a time for introspection by all agencies, governments and people involved — of the effectiveness of their strategies to combat trafficking and end the suffering of countless forms of violence committed against captives. That would mark a definite defeat of the ideals of terror spread by those who seek to sow despicable hatred among humanity.