When I first met Nadia Murad, she was still in the early stages of her career as a human rights advocate and campaigner for Yazidi rights, fighting against Daesh. Back then, I already had a rough idea about who she was – a Yazidi girl that was held captive by Daesh, survived and had escaped, now touring the world to implement change. I even got the chance to witness her giving testimony, recalling the time she had spent in captivity. Although my encounter with her was only very short, it left a mark. Nadia is a girl more or less my own age; a girl that is telling a story that could hardly be more different from my own.
Now, almost two years later, Nadia has reached world fame. She has told her story over and over again and was named Goodwill Ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking by the United Nations. Alongside the international law and human rights specialist- Amal Clooney- she continues her powerful political campaign. If this wasn’t impressive enough, Nadia has also published her first book: an autobiography. Upon reading this intimate account, it is only now I fully understand
who this girl was that I had met months back. Nadia continues to instrumentalise her own story, using her voice to represent all those who will not get the chance to speak. Her book is dedicated to all Yazidi.
Reading this sort of memoir can be quite daunting, leaving the reader with a bitter taste and sense of hopelessness in the face of adversity taking place in the world today. Yet, in Nadia’s book, this is not the case. However horrendous, hers is a story of hope. Told in a straightforward and simple manner, genuinely and directly, Nadia becomes so very human to the reader. She seems like a girl as any other, not perfect but plagued by doubts and even hopelessness at times. This is what makes her story so scary yet equally inspiring. Scary, because it becomes clear that under specific circumstances, what has happened to Nadia could have happened to any other girl. Full of hope, because Nadia, a girl like any other and only human, has not only survived, but is now continuing to fight. Nadia’s story is most extraordinary; yet still, her biography does not solely centre around herself. Her book is a call to action, providing a window on genocide the Yazidis are facing this very moment and the brutality with which Daesh is pursuing its objectives in the Middle East. Above all, Nadia Murad assumes her position not as a victim but as a leader. She figures as motivation and inspiration to everyone who will listen.
And this is precisely why everyone should listen.
Nadia Murad and Jenna Krajeski’s “The Last Girl – My Story of Captivity and My Fight Against the Islamic State” was published in 2017 by Virago Press. ISBN: 978-0-349-00975- 9
Alicja Polakiewicz is Co-Director for STAND France, the Student-Led Movement to End Mass Atrocity. Born in Germany with Polish roots, she is currently pursuing her Bachelor in political science at Sciences Po Paris in France.