Today it was announced that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2018 has been awarded to two individuals for their respective efforts “to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict.” They include Dr. Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad, a Yazidi survivor and activist, whose powerful story is the subject of Alexandria Bombach’s award-winning 2018 documentary ‘On Her Shoulders’ (view trailer above).
In announcing the equal share winners of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, the Nobel Committee wrote the following of 2018 laureate Nadia Murad…
“Nadia Murad is herself a victim of war crimes. She refused to accept the social codes that require women to remain silent and ashamed of the abuses to which they have been subjected. She has shown uncommon courage in recounting her own sufferings and speaking up on behalf of other victims.
“Nadia Murad is a member of the Yazidi minority in northern Iraq, where she lived with her family in the remote village of Kocho. In August 2014 the Islamic State (IS) launched a brutal, systematic attack on the villages of the Sinjar district, aimed at exterminating the Yazidi population. In Nadia Murad’s village, several hundred people were massacred. The younger women, including underage children, were abducted and held as sex slaves. While a captive of the IS, Nadia Murad was repeatedly subjected to rape and other abuses. Her assaulters threatened to execute her if she did not convert to their hateful, inhuman version of Islam.
“Nadia Murad is just one of an estimated 3,000 Yazidi girls and women who were victims of rape and other abuses by the IS army. The abuses were systematic, and part of a military strategy. Thus they served as a weapon in the fight against Yazidis and other religious minorities.
“After a three-month nightmare Nadia Murad managed to flee. Following her escape, she chose to speak openly about what she had suffered. In 2016, at the age of just 23, she was named the UN’s first Goodwill Ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking.”
Alexandria Bombach’s film, ‘On Her Shoulders’, which captures Nadia’s extraordinary story, made its world premiere in January at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival where it claimed the U.S. Documentary Directing Award. It has gone on to win awards at other top film festivals around the world. You can find a list of current and upcoming screenings here.
Film Synopsis: Twenty-three-year-old Nadia Murad’s life is a dizzying array of exhausting undertakings—from giving testimony before the U.N. to visiting refugee camps to soul-bearing media interviews and one-on-one meetings with top government officials. With deep compassion and a formal precision and elegance that matches Nadia’s calm and steely demeanor, filmmaker Alexandria Bombach follows this strong-willed young woman, who survived the 2014 genocide of the Yazidis in Northern Iraq and escaped the hands of ISIS to become a relentless beacon of hope for her people, even when at times she longs to lay aside this monumental burden and simply have an ordinary life.