Why Escaped ISIS Sex Slave Nadia Murad’s Testimony Is Important
by Tracy Yu
It is estimated that Islamic terror group ISIS holds about 3,500 slaves, most of whom are women and children subjected to sexual violence. Of those sex slaves, one Yazidi woman escaped captivity in 2014. Her name is Nadia Murad. Ever since she escaped, she has dedicated countless hours towards fighting for the freedom and human rights of those still in captivity. Her latest stunt is her testimony before the US Congress on June 21st during a hearing to discuss Islamic State ideology, where she urged America to act now, saying that, “the Yazidi people cannot wait.”
She urged US lawmakers to fight the war against terror and not avert their eyes from the crimes of ISIS. Murad then asked the United States and other countries to create a safe zone for Iraqi and Syrian religious minorities, which the Obama administration has repeatedly rejected. “Terrorism is destroying the human heritage we have collectively built, not as one people, one nation, one color, one religion, but the civilization we’ve built together as humans of different cultures and faiths,” said Murad in her testimony, in an effort to remind the world that ISIS is a common enemy for all, regardless of your culture, religion, or ethnicity.
Her powerful message comes in the wake of the aftermath of the Orlando shooting, where Omar Mateen, a man who’d pledged allegiance to ISIS, shot 49 people at a gay nightclub. Murad testifies that she was not surprised, telling lawmakers that “[she] knew if ISIS were not stopped, they would deliver their crimes everywhere.” Murad gives a voice to the 3,500 voiceless women and children held captive by ISIS and the 49 people shot dead by Omar Mateen. Her words deliver a message that these people and millions of others cannot say, so it is necessary for us to listen and take action.
Murad also made it clear in her testimony that although ISIS’ crimes are committed under the name of Islam, ISIS does not represent Islam. She does not want anyone to attack the entire religion of Islam, since the family that rescued her from ISIS was, in fact, a Muslim family in Mosul, a city in northern Iraq. In the middle of all the ongoing backlash against Muslims and the hurtful stereotype that all Muslims are terrorists, this statement is very much needed.
Nadia Murad’s testimony against ISIS reminds us that it’s important to speak up for those whose voices have been silenced, to give a voice to the voiceless. Especially after the recent court case of Brock Turner, Murad’s statements against the subjection of women to sexual violence reminds young women and girls that it’s ok to make yourself heard.