The Islamic State (IS) terrorists made her a sex slave. She was not alone……there were hundreds of thousands of women who were kidnapped by the terrorists. Members of the terror outfit, reportedly, are still using them as sex slaves in Iraq and Syria.

In an intimate memoir of survival, Nadia Murad Basee Taha – a former captive of the IS – tells her harrowing (and also inspiring) story. Murad, born and brought up in Kocho – a small village in northern Iraq, is a member of the Yazidi community.

The Yazidis are monotheists, as they believe in God as creator of the world. And he has placed the world under the care of seven holy beings or angels, the chief of whom is Melek Taus – the Peacock Angel. The Peacock Angel, as world-ruler, causes both good and bad to befall individuals and this ambivalent character is reflected in myths of his own temporary fall from God’s favour, before his remorseful tears extinguished the fires of his hellish prison and he was reconciled with God. This belief has been linked by some people to Sufi mystical reflections on Iblis, who also refused to prostrate to Adam despite God’s express command to do so. Because of this similarity to the Sufi tradition of Iblis, some followers of other monotheistic religions of the region equate the Peacock Angel with their own unredeemed evil spirit Satan, which has incited centuries of persecution of the Yazidis as “devil worshippers” (Empson, R.H.W. (1928). The Cult of the Peacock Angel. London: H.F. & G. Witherby. p. 184 and van Bruinessen, Martin (1992). Chapter 2: Kurdish society, ethnicity, nationalism and refugee problems)

In her publication – ‘The Last Girl’, Murad says that her life ended on August 15, 2014, when the IS militants massacred the people of her village. They executed her six brothers, mother, and took 21-year-old Murad to Mosul and made a sex slave of her. After being held captive by several militants and repeatedly raped and beaten, she somehow managed a narrow escape through the streets of Mosul and found a shelter in the home of a Sunni Muslim family. The eldest son of the family risked his life to ‘smuggle’ her to safety.

Almost three years after living through those horrible moments, Murad shared her ‘story’ with the media at a London hotel. The Yazidi woman survivor recounted those days on December 1, saying: “Sometimes it can feel like all that anyone is interested in when it comes to the genocide (of Yazidis) is the sexual abuse of Yazidi girls…I want to talk about everything…” Murad, formally appointed UNODC Goodwill Ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking in September 2016, expressed hope that her horrific account of being captured by the caliphate would inspire the international community to fight against terror.

According to Murad, the IS occupied the entire northern part of Iraq in 2014 and started its campaign to “purify” Iraq and its neighbouring countries of non-Islamic influences. Thousands of Yazidi community people used to live in this part of the war-torn West Asian country. So, the IS militants targeted the region and massacred the villagers without any provocation. She recalled that the terrorists executed men who refused to convert to Islam and forced women to become sex slaves. Murad insisted that the only purpose of publishing her book is to inform the world about the IS’ brutality and to attract the global community’s attention to the ongoing genocide in Iraq.

Murad – a survivor of rape, a refugee and a Yazidi – told media persons that she wanted to become a history teacher. However, her life changed in 2014 after the IS militants attacked her village. They shot all the male villagers and loaded women onto a bus and took them to Mosul. “I, then aged 21, was savagely groped by a gunman. I was shaken to the core and by the end of the journey, we were no longer human beings – we were sabaya (sex slave)”. The next day, she was sold, forced to convert to Islam (from a Satan worshipper), repeatedly raped and gang-raped when she attempted escape. She claimed that many Yazidi women committed suicide in Mosul because they didn’t want to sacrifice their dignity.

Hajji Salman, a high-ranking IS judge, purchased Murad in Mosul and used her as a sex slave. After being raped by Salman (for more than two months), she decided to take the first opportunity to escape. And she managed to do so. “One day, my captor had, for reasons unknown, left the main door unlocked,” recalled Murad. Soon after her ‘master’ left the house, she started running and didn’t stop. She walked all evening and into the night. Finally, a Sunni family saved Murad’s life and helped her reunite with two of her brothers at a refugee camp in Kurdish-held Iraq.

Murad claimed that IS terrorists kidnapped more than 2,000 girls. She told the British media that the local people in Mosul didn’t try to rescue them. And those, who tried, demanded thousands of dollars. Murad further claimed that terrorists from Europe, Saudi Arabia and Tunisia used to rape them repeatedly on a regular basis. Even they asked the girls to join prayers before raping them. Murad – who survived unspeakable horrors – believes that more than 3,000 women and kids were in IS captivity at that time.

Murad wants to become a make-up artist, to open her own beauty salon and to start a new life. “I think there was a reason God helped me escape. . . . and I don’t take my freedom for granted. The terrorists didn’t think that Yazidi girls would have the courage to tell the world every detail of what they did to us. We defy them by not letting their crimes go unanswered. Every time I tell my story, I feel that I am taking some power away from the terrorists,” stressed Murad, who lives in Germany now.

Koushik Das, based in the Indian capital of New Delhi, is a senior news editor with more than 15 years of experience. He also runs a blog - Boundless Ocean of Politics. E-Mail: [email protected]