The Last Girl on Earth
“I want to be the last girl in the world with a story like mine.”
Nadia Murad was raped. She was burnt with cigarettes, beaten and held as a slave. For eight terrible months of her life, the Islamic State captured her alongside other Yazidi women in Iraq and forced her into a marriage. After she experienced the most cruel and atrocious crimes imaginable, she eventually managed to escape.
For this reason, the United Nations celebrates the Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women on the 25th of October of every year. Shocking numbers reveal that Nadia Murad’s story is not unique. Women in all parts of the world are subject to sexual violence, human trafficking, female genital mutilation and child marriage every day. 1 in 3 of all women in the world have been a victim of physical or sexual violence. Some women are especially vulnerable to this: ethnic minorities, women who identify as lesbian, bisexual or transgender or women with HIV. The consequences are dire: not only are such acts immoral and disgusting, it is estimated that such violence costs approximately 2% of the global GDP every year.
In a joint statement, the Heads of UN Agencies presented their two main objectives: firstly, expressing solidarity with all the victims of all forms of violence against women. Secondly, stopping all forms of such violence. For instance, the UN Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women invests in local initiatives helping women and girls improve their socio- economic stance and education. In addition, the UN started a campaign called “Orange the World: #HearMeToo”. This campaign provides a platform for victims of violence to share their stories. It is a platform for everyone who defends their rights and a platform for everyone who stands up to take action against the issue. Referring to the global movement #MeToo, #HearMeToo provides women who do not normally have a voice to be heard. The 25th of November is followed by 16 Days of Activism leading up to the Human Rights Day on the 10th of December. If you would like to find out more about “Orange the World”, read some of the #HearMeToo Stories online.
In 2018, Nadia Murad received the Nobel Peace Prize for her effort to end sexual violence as a weapon of war. She now lives in Germany. In her campaign to end violence against women, she has addressed the United Nations Security Council, was named a Goodwill Ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human trafficking of the United Nations and wrote a memoir titled: “The Last Girl: My Story in Captivity and My Fight Against the Islamic State”.
Sadly, she will most likely not be the last girl in the world suffering from violence. Force and violence against women are not most shocking when they occur in war, they are most shocking when they are part of everyday life. However, Nadia’s strength and her commitment inspires us to join in the global campaign set forth by the United Nations, to listen to all the women that normally do not have a voice through the #HearMeToo campaign and to contribute to the fight against cruelty against girls and women.