Trigger Warning: Sexual Abuse.
The Last Girl by Nadia Murad is a harrowing memoir. It is a painful read, but an important one nonetheless. It serves as a reminder that the effects of war are felt not only on the male dominated battlefield, but also in the surrounding communities, by the women and the children. It demonstrates the use of sexual abuse as a weapon of war and the devastation wreaked on communities, long after the war is over.
Nadia and her family lived a quiet village existence, one centred on farming and family. The community of their town, Kocho, was made up of Yazidis; a minority religion in Iraq considered devil worshippers by some Muslims. When she was just 21 years old, IS captured the village, killing the men and women considered too old to be sex slaves, taking the remaining girls captive. The Last Girl provides a window into the Yazidi genocide, the failures of the west to intervene and Nadia’s experience of degradation and humiliation when held as a sex slave of IS militants.
The Last Girl also provides an inside account of a refugee and the circumstances that force this status on a person. Nadia now works with the highest echelons of the UN, with Amal Clooney and other high profile activists to bring legal action on IS. She currently resides in Germany, but what is so clear is that to her this is purely palliative. Her wish to return to her home country, to her village of Kocho and the community she loves resounds throughout.
The Last Girl is a clarion call to demand the war criminals are brought to justice and for restitution of Kocho and Sinjar to the Yazidi community. It is inspiring as much as it is troubling. It will change your view on the world overnight.
Words by Jennifer Nutter.
Yesterday (3rd August) marked the sixth anniversary of the Yazidi genocide. “In 2014, fighters from the Islamic state in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) attacked the Yazidi community of Sinjar, in northwest Iraq. Within days, reports emerged of men and boys being executed; of women and girls, some as young as nine, being kidnapped, sold, sexually enslaved, beaten and forced to work; and of boys ripped from their families and forced into ISIS training camps. In 2015 and 2016, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and the United Nations Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria released separate reports determining that ISIS was com- mitting genocide, as well as crimes against humanity and war crimes, in its coordinated assault on the Yazidis of Sinjar.”
You can read the full UN report here, and we feel very strongly that this should be something that we all take the time to educate ourselves on. There is an apparent lack of mainstream coverage of this, and The Last Girl opens up a well needed avenue into learning about this truly awful event. Yesterday the anti-slavery collective posted on social media with a quote from Nadia Murad, saying “The Islamic State didn’t come to kill the women and girls, but to use us as spoils of war, as objects to be sold with little or to be gifted for free”. No woman should ever be used as a commodity or sexually abused, and no woman should ever live their lives in a state of fear. Here at Women’s Writes we implore you to educate yourself on this matter, as we will be doing also.
Photo by The Anti Slavery Collective on Instagram