Former ISIL sex slaves receive the Sakharov Prize

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By Catherine Hardy  with European Parliament
Former ISIL sex slaves receive the Sakharov Prize

ISIL survivors-turned-activists Nadia Murad and Lamiya Aji Bashar will receive the 2016 Sakharov Prize in a ceremony in a ceremony in the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Tuesday.

After escaping sexual enslavement by ISIL, the Iraqi Yazidi women became spokespeople for women affected by the terrorist group’s campaign of sexual violence.

They have also spoken out in support of the persecuted Yazidi minority.

Nadia and Lamiya’s story

23-year-old Nadia and 19-year-old Lamiya are from Kocho, a village near Sinjar in Iraq.

In August 2014, ISIL militants killed all the males in the village.

Young women, including Nadia, Lamiya and their sisters, were abducted and forced into sex slavery.

They eventually managed to escape: Nadia in November 2014 and Lamiya in April 2016. Both now live in Germany.

They both work to raise awareness of the plight of the Yazidi community in Iraq and of the situation of women caught up in campaigns of sexual violence.

The Sakharov Prize

The Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought was set up in 1998.

Named after the Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov, it is awarded each year by the European Parliament to honour individuals and organisations defending human rights and fundamental freedoms.

The prize comes with an award of €50,000.

Tuesday’s ceremony will be broadcast live on Euronews.

What they are saying

“I visited more than 20 countries in the Arab world and Europe. I have met a lot of presidents, parliamentarians and other people. What we want from the world is to stop this, to punish those responsible for our extermination, to punish criminals in front of the International Criminal Court, to protect minorities, small communities like the Yazidis and the Christians who live in Iraq and Syria,” – Nadia Murad.

“I am very happy. It is great moral support for me to receive this prize in the name of those who were kidnapped and defeated by ISIL. Thousands of women have been sexually assaulted and I am one of them. ISIL wanted to rid the world of Yazidis but whatever happens to any one of us, we will tell the truth,” – Lamiya Aji Bashar.

The full interview with Nadia Murad and Lamia Aji Bashar will be broadcast on Euronews at 20:45 CET on Wednesday December 14.