Book: The Last Girl: My Story of Captivity and My Fight Against the Islamic State

Publisher:  Virago

Author:  Nadia Murad

Nadia Murad is a human rights activist and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. She is the recipient of the Vaclav Havel Human Rights Prize and the Sakharov Prize, and is the UN’s first Goodwill Ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking. Together with Yazda, a Yazidi rights organization, she is currently working to bring the Islamic State before the International Criminal Court on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity. She is also the founder of Nadia’s Initiative, a program dedicated to helping survivors of genocide and human trafficking to heal and rebuild their communities.

In this intimate memoir of survival, a former captive of the Islamic State tells her harrowing and ultimately inspiring story.
Nadia Murad was born and raised in Kocho, a small village of farmers and shepherds in northern Iraq. A member of the Yazidi community, she and her brothers and sisters lived a quiet life. Nadia had dreams of becoming a history teacher or opening her own beauty salon.
Today, Nadia’s story—as a witness to the Islamic State’s brutality, a survivor of rape, a refugee, a Yazidi—has forced the world to pay attention to an ongoing genocide. It is a call to action, a testament to the human will to survive, and a love letter to a lost country, a fragile community, and a family torn apart by war.

 “The Last Girl” is also an introduction on the ancient Yazidi faith that sustains Murad throughout her ordeal: its creation myths, visions of the afterlife and idiosyncratic customs. Yazidis pray to Tawusi Melek, an archangel who, at the creation, took the form of a peacock, and painted desolate earth with the colors of his feathers. Over the centuries, misunderstandings surrounding the mysterious religion have fueled genocide — 73 times. According to a spiteful myth, Tawusi Melek refused to bow before Adam and was condemned to hell, echoing Satan’s behavior in the Quran. Branding them the worshippers of no religious faith ISIS legitimized the massacre and enslavement of Yazidis and their inhumane treatment.

 On August 15th, 2014, when Nadia was just twenty-one years old, her life ended. Nadia Murad was abducted with other Yazidi women when their home village of Kocho in Sinjar, northern Iraq, was besieged by ISIS Islamic State militants massacred the people of her village, executing men who refused to convert to Islam and women too old to become sex slaves. Six of Nadia’s brothers were killed, and her mother soon after, their bodies swept into mass graves. Nadia was taken to Mosul and forced, along with thousands of other Yazidi girls, into the ISIS slave trade. Nadia would be held captive by several militants and repeatedly raped and beaten. Finally, she managed a narrow escape through the streets of Mosul, finding shelter in the home of a Sunni Muslim family whose eldest son risked his life to smuggle her to safety.
Nadia also describes how the ‘sabaya’( sex-slave) were treated by ISIS. ISIS has also discussed about sabayas in their glossy propaganda magazine, Dabiq. She describes in the book how rape is being used as a weapon for war and how other Yazidi girls have been a victim of it. She says in the book  “My story, told honestly and matter-of-factly, is the best weapon I have against terrorism, and I plan on using it until those terrorists are put on trial I want to be the last girl on this earth with a story like mine.

That powerful statement in itself makes readers realize the pain she went through the Islamic State’s brutality. A survivor of rape, a refugee, a Yazidi wants the world to pay attention to an ongoing genocide. She calls herself a Proud Yazidi and pens down this memoir to a lost country, a fragile community, and a family torn apart by war.

Courtesy: The New York Times

Veena YJ