Nadia Murad, the Yazidi human rights activist who won this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, has announced that she will use her $1 million award to build a hospital for victims of sexual abuse in her hometown of Sinjar, Iraq, Reuters reports.
“With the money I got from the Nobel Peace Prize, I will build a hospital in Sinjar to treat ill people, mainly widows and women who were exposed to sexual abuses by Islamic State militants,” she told a large crowd in Sinjar on Dec. 14, Reuters reports.
Fighting to end sexual violence is more than just a pet cause for Murad. Her work is fueled by her personal experiences and the challenges she has overcome.
Murad was kidnapped and held as a sex slave by Islamic State militants for three months in 2014, when she was only 19 years old. After escaping, she fled to Germany where she began calling for support for the Yazidi community — a religious minority in northwest Iraq that has been displaced, persecuted, and killed by ISIS fighters.
Around 7,000 women and children were captured by ISIS in northwest Iraq in 2014, and many of them were raped and tortured.
As a human rights activist, Murad has made it her mission to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and to hold Islamic State militants responsible for their abuse of the Yazidi people. Earlier this year, Murad received the Nobel Peace Prize alongside Denis Mukwege, a Congolese doctor who specializes in treatment for survivors of rape in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where mass rape has also been used as a war tactic for decades.
Wartime sexual violence is a global problem that puts women and girls living in areas of armed conflict at high risk of rape and sexual slavery.
Leadership from human rights activists like Murad will be essential in rebuilding communities and putting policy in place to protect survivors. The construction of a hospital in Sinjar, Iraq is an important step forward in this effort.