Yazidi rape survivors win EU human rights prize

Yazidi rape survivors win EU human rights prize
Nadia Murad and Lamiya Aji Bashar both escaped sexual enslavement at the hands of Islamic State fighters and have since campaigned to hold her people's captors accountable for their crimes
2 min read
27 October, 2016
Nadia Murad and Lamiya Aji Bashar campaign for justice for the Yazidi people [Getty]

Two Iraqi women who survived rape and abuse as sex slaves of Islamic State militants have won the EU's Sakharov Prize for human rights.

Nadia Murad Basee and Lamiya Aji Bashar, who are campaigning for justice for the Yazidi people, were presented the award on Thursday.

The women have shown "incredible bravery and humanity in the face of despicable brutality," said Guy Verhofstadt, the leader of the Liberal ALDE group on the European Parliament.

Parliamentarian Beatriz Becerra Basterrechea, who backed the two winners' nominations, said the prize is "a recognition of Nadia's and Lamiya's fight throughout their life".

"Both have impressively overcome the brutal sexual slavery they were exposed to by jihadist terrorists and become an example for all of us," she said.

The award, named after Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov, was created in 1988 to honour individuals or groups who defend human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Last month Murad was named UN goodwill ambassador for the dignity of survivors of human trafficking.

Murad said her hope was that one day, Yazidi victims will be able to look "our abusers in the eye before a court in The Hague and tell the world what they have done to us, so that our community can heal".

Aji Bashar escaped her captors in April. On her way over the Kurdish border, a landmine exploded, killing two of her acquaintances and leaving her injured and almost blind.

Since her recovery Aji Bashar has been active in raising awareness about the plight of the Yazidi community and continues to help women and children who were victims of IS enslavement and atrocities.

Last year's Sakharov prize winner was Saudi Arabian blogger Raif Badawi. Former winners include Nelson Mandela.

Among the finalists this year were the Crimean Tatars and former Turkish newspaper editor Can Dundar.