Twenty five-year-old Nadia Murad, like Denis Mukwege, has become world famous after being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her work against sexual violence in conflicts. At the same time Nadia Murad has also become an important voice in the UN regarding the genocide of the Yazidi folk group.
When the IS terrorists driving their trucks took over the village Kocho in northwestern Iraq in August 2014, six of Nadia Murad’’s brothers were brutally murdered, as well as her mother. In the city of Mosul, just over ten miles from home she had been kidnapped and sold as a sex slave to the men of the Islamic State.
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Dagen met with Yazidi Houwayda Mahdi, who is the same age as Nadia Murad, and knows the Nobel prizewinner. Houwayda also maintains contact with Nadia Murad’’s sisters and family, who live in one of the local refugee camps a few miles away near the Turkish border.
“I’m glad we have women like Nadia, who can speak about the situation of the Yazidis to the rest the world,” Houwayda Mahdi, said. She works for the Christian-British aid organization Tearfund in the city of Dohuk.
“We have been subjected to genocide several times in the past, but no one has ever taken notice of it.”
She related that last December the Nobel laureate, who now lives in Germany, was in the Yazidi Sinjar area to visit her family.
When Dagen spoke to therapists at a meeting for Iraqi displaced persons, they recounted about a Yazidi woman who was sold and raped seven times by IS soldiers.
“Another patient told us how four–five people abused her sexually for several hours.” Nadia Murad herself was humiliated daily as a sex slave in Mosul, before she managed to flee.
“We have thousands of women who have suffered the same thing. We are happy for the help they are now getting from different aid organizations. But the great problem is that they no longer have their parents and brothers and sisters. We can never give them their families back”, said Houwayda Mahdi.
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Several Iraqis that the newspaper Dagen spoke to, are familiar with the Congo physician Denis Mukwege, who visited the area last June so as to learn about the sexual abuse of the Yazidi women.
Houwayda Mahdi said, “that the vital work in documenting these women’’s stories, has now come a long way. However, there are still Yazidi women who are still kept as sex slaves, and who need to be bought free by their families or by the Kurdish autonomy of Dohuk, who have already helped many to get their freedom.”
It has been said that sexual abuse would be perceived as a shame for women in the Yazidi culture. But Houwayda Mahdi is unaware of that description.
“There are about ten Yazidi women who are now traveling around and talking about the rapes they have been subjected to. What is not their fault, should not be a shame. The families would not buy them free if they rejected them.”
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Another important female role model for Houwayda Mahdi is the Yazidi Iraqi Member of Parliament Vian Dakhil.
“I will never forget when she cried in the parliament for the Yazidis who were stuck up on Sinjar Mountain, running away from IS. After listening to her, Barack Obama sent airplanes that dropped water, food and blankets.”
Artikelserie: Efter IS
The Yazidi folk group
In northern Iraq there are about 400,000 Yazidis.
Yazdis is an ethnic group that have their own monotheistic religion that has embraced elements of the larger religions. The Peacock Angel Malak Taus is the one to whom the Yazidis direct their prayers.