The EU's 2016 Sakharov Prize for human rights has been awarded to Nadia Murad and Lamiya Aji Bashar, two Yazidi women who escaped sexual slavery by the Islamic State.
The award is named after Andrei Sakharov, a Soviet dissident, and bestowed upon those who defend human rights. In December, Murad shared with the U.N. Security Council the terror she experienced, along with other Yazidi women and girls, when they were abducted in August 2014 after Sinjar, Iraq, fell to ISIS militants. She was raped repeatedly, and fled after three months. Bashar attempted to escape from ISIS four times, and was successful this March. With ISIS fighters following her, she was scarred and blinded in her right eye when a land mine exploded; the two people she was traveling with both died. ISIS views the Yazidi minority as being heretical, and hundreds of Yazidi women and girls who were kidnapped by ISIS are still in captivity in Syria and Iraq.
Murad and Bashar are "inspirational women who have shown incredible bravery and humanity in the face of despicable brutality," Guy Verhofstadt, leader of the European Parliament's ALDE group, said Thursday. Parliamentarian Beatriz Becerra Basterrechea said the women have fought "throughout their life. Both have impressively overcome the brutal sexual slavery that they were exposed to by jihadist terrorists and become an example for all of us."