Israeli Journalist Recounts Interview With Yazidi Rape Survivor Who Won Nobel Prize: ‘You Know What Its Like When Everyone Turns Their Back’
Israeli journalist Efrat Lechter Peres on Friday recounted an interview she conducted last year with Yazidi activist Nadia Murad, a former ISIS sex slave who won the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize on Wednesday for her campaign to raise awareness of her and her people’s trauma.
Murad was kidnapped by ISIS terrorists when they overran Yazidi areas of Iraq. The radical Islamist group slaughtered the men and took thousands of women as sex slaves. Murad was abducted in 2014 and repeatedly raped and beaten by her “owner,” who also allowed her to be gang-raped by other ISIS terrorists.
While many Yazidi victims of systematic rape and slavery sought to conceal their identities out of shame after being liberated, Murad went public with her story and launched an international campaign to raise awareness of the mass victimization of Yazidi women by ISIS. She has spoken in many international forums and recently published a book on her experiences.
Murad shared the prize with Congolese doctor Denis Mukwege, who has worked extensively with rape victims of the brutal war in his country.
Peres, a reporter for Israel’s Channel Two, interviewed Murad when she visited Israel to give a speech to the Knesset. “I was so nervous that I didn’t know how to begin the interview with her,” writes Peres, so she simply told Murad that she had met with other Yazidi survivors of rape and their stories “have been with me every day since then.”
Peres notes that Yazidi women are doubly traumatized due to the shame that they feel: “They can’t share or ask for treatment and help, because they know they will be thought of as ‘damaged.'” Murad, says Peres, is unusual because she “dared to break the silence. … She was not ashamed. And because of her, the world couldn’t say they didn’t know anymore.”
According to Peres, Murad drew a parallel between the Yazidi experience and the Jewish trauma of the Holocaust, and asked Israel to aid Yazidi victims.
“You went through a genocide,” Murad said. “You know what it’s like when everyone turned their backs on the refugees from the Holocaust. Now you have a state — consider accepting some of us.”
After hearing that Murad had won the Nobel prize, Peres says, “I think of all the women I met in Iraq, and I very much hope that the news of the honor Nadia has won will reach them and give them the strength to speak out. Not to feel shame because they are victims, but to understand that in fact, in the this terrible war, they are those who survived and they are the true heroines.”