These Yazidi Women Were Awarded the Sakharov Prize for Activism & Bravery

This year, the EU Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought was given to Nadia Murad and Lamiya Aji Bashar, two of the lucky few who have been able to successfully escape from the enslavement of the Daesh (ISIS) in Iraq.


23-year-old Murad and 18-year-old Bashar were held as sex slaves along with hundreds of other Yazidi women and girls. In August 2014, Daesh came and slaughtered the men in the small village of Kocho, Iraq and abducted its women and children, including Murad, Bashar and their siblings.

According to the European Parliament News, Murad was able to escape a few months later, fleeing first to a refugee camp in Iraq and then later to Germany.

In December 2015, she delivered a speech at the UN’s first session on human trafficking and became the UNODC’s Goodwill Ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking earlier this year.

Bashar escaped earlier this April and ran into a land mine, leaving her face scarred, from where she was able to escape and later went to Germany for medical treatment. There she was reunited with her surviving siblings.

Today, Bashar is an activist and raises awareness for the plight of Yazidi community and helps survivors of Daesh.


Each year, the EU Sakharov Prize is awarded to individuals who actively stand for human rights and fundamental freedoms. Previous winners include Nelson Mandela.

While accepting the award, the New York Times reports, Bashar dedicated the prize to “every woman and girl who has been sexually enslaved by IS” and Murad added that the Daesh “wanted to take our honor, but they lost their honor.”

According to the Guardian, the leader of the European Paliament ALDE group, Guy Verhofstadt, said, they are “inspirational women who have shown incredible bravery and humanity in the face of despicable brutality.” The ALDE group nominated the two women.


The European Parliament President Martin Schulz commented that this is “a very symbolic and significant decision to support these two survivors who came to Europe as refugees,” especially amidst a refugee crisis that has left a large number of casualties in its wake.

Find out more about Nadia’s Initiative here.