FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

A Woman’s Selfhood and Her Ability to Act in the Public Domain: Resilience of Nadia Murad

One of the winners of the Nobel Peace Prize 2018 is Nadia Murad, an Iraqi Yazidi activist, for her effort “to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict.”

The Norwegian Nobel Committee underscored, “This year marks a decade since the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1820 (2008), which determined that the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict constitutes both a war crime and a threat to international peace and security. This is also set out in the Rome Statute of 1998, which governs the work of the International Criminal Court. … A more peaceful world can only be achieved if women and their fundamental rights and security are recognized and protected in war.”

Ever since ISIL laid siege to a large portion of Iraq in 2014, Yazidi women have borne the brunt of the violence in that country. Hapless women have been negotiating with members of ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant), both materially and sexually. Unfortunately, the innate conservatism of Arab and South Asian societies prevents them from overtly describing and condemning sexual exploitation. Yazidi women are further dehumanized because of the self-denigration that accompanies physical defilement. The law of the jungle which prevails in those areas leaves no scope for rehabilitation of the victims of violence. The brutalization of the culture has been rendered more lethal by the socialization of boys and men into the militarized ISIS culture. Within such a masculinist discourse, the rigidly entrenched hierarchical relationship between men and women is inextricably linked with sexualized violence.

Little did Nadia Murad’s family know that their precious daughter, whom they had sheltered from the turbulent waves of life would be driven to insanity by unbearable suffering and humiliation. She along with other Yazidi girls, several of whom were under the age of puberty, was horrendously violated by a bestial group of ISIL militants. Nadia was defiled and her beautiful innocence ended. Had God forsaken her? Would she be saved by a messiah or would she be left at the mercy of these satanic creatures? Was this a nightmare that would vanish at the break of dawn? Despite the indelible scar on her psyche and her humiliation, Nadia had the resilience to cope with the buffets that fate had dealt her.

Subsequent to the Peace Prize announcement, Nadia Murad observed, “Persecution of minorities must end. Sexual violence against women must never be tolerated. We must remain committed to rebuilding communities ravaged by genocide. … We must work together with determination — so that genocidal campaigns will not only fail, but lead to accountability for the perpetrators.” She added, “Survivors deserve justice. And a safe and secure pathway home.”

Will the grievances of such aggrieved and powerless people ever be redressed? Will violated Yazidi women ever have the satisfaction of knowing that those who wronged them did not go unpunished?

It is heart wrenching to see despondent women with hopelessness entrenched in their atrophied looks and minds. Physically bruised, psychologically broken, improvident; socially marginalized and left to their own devices; unsought by those with the means to help; each sigh bespeaks a grief that knows no bounds and has no hope of respite. Some conservative Yazidis disapprove of attempts to welcome survivors back into the faith and would rather ostracize them. These repositories of communal values and cultural traditions are not always able to find a support system in a community that had experienced the trauma of state-formation at its expense. Several “dishonored” women in conflict zones retain their status as familial and cultural chattels lacking control over their own bodies.

Although the international community made a commitment to incorporate gender perspectives in peace efforts and underscored gender mainstreaming as a global strategy for the growth of gender equality in the Beijing Declaration and the Platform for Action in 1995 (Mazurana et al. 2005: 12), I observe a lot more could be done toward prosecuting perpetrators of sexual violence in conflict zones and increasing women’s participation in peacekeeping and postconflict peace building and nation-building in Iraq.

As Dyan Mazura, Angela Raven-Roberts, Jane Parpart, and Sue Lautze (2005) observe, “inattention to, and subsequent miscalculations about, women’s and girl’s roles and experiences during particular conflicts and in early post-conflict periods systematically undermines the efforts of peacekeeping and peace-building operations, civil society, and women’s organizations to establish conditions necessary for national and regional peace, justice, and security” (2).

It is heartening that the Norwegian Nobel Committee has recognized the worth of the peace-building work that survivors of sexual violence and women’s organizations can contribute at the local and regional levels. The aspirations for accountability of terror groups’ use of sexual violence, healing, and peace must be translated into a powerful force that would determine the substance of conflict resolution.

 

More articles by:

Nyla Ali Khan is the author of Fiction of Nationality in an Era of Transnationalism, Islam, Women, and Violence in Kashmir, The Life of a Kashmiri Woman, and the editor of The Parchment of Kashmir. Nyla Ali Khan has also served as an guest editor working on articles from the Jammu and Kashmir region for Oxford University Press (New York), helping to identify, commission, and review articles. She can be reached at nylakhan@aol.com.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
September 18, 2019
Kenneth Surin
An Excellent Study Of The Manufactured Labour “Antisemitism Crisis”
Patrick Cockburn
The Saudi Crown Prince Plans to Make Us Forget About the Murder of Jamal Khashoggi Before the US Election
W. T. Whitney
Political Struggle and Fixing Cuba’s Economy
Ron Jacobs
Support the Climate Strike, Not a Military Strike
John Kendall Hawkins
Slouching Toward “Bethlehem”
Ted Rall
Once Again in Afghanistan, the U.S. Proves It Can’t Be Trusted
William Astore
The Ultra-Costly, Underwhelming F-35 Fighter
Dave Lindorff
Why on Earth Would the US Go to War with Iran over an Attack on Saudi Oil Refineries?
Binoy Kampmark
Doctored Admissions: the University Admissions Scandal as a Global Problem
Jeremy Corbyn
Creating a Society of Hope and Inclusion: Speech to the TUC
Zhivko Illeieff
Why You Should Care About #ShutDownDC and the Global Climate Strike  
Catherine Tumber
Land Without Bread: the Green New Deal Forsakes America’s Countryside
Liam Kennedy
Boris Johnson: Elitist Defender of Britain’s Big Banks
September 17, 2019
Mario Barrera
The Southern Strategy and Donald Trump
Robert Jensen
The Danger of Inspiration in a Time of Ecological Crisis
Dean Baker
Health Care: Premiums and Taxes
Dave Lindorff
Recalling the Hundreds of Thousands of Civilian Victims of America’s Endless ‘War on Terror’
Binoy Kampmark
Oiling for War: The Houthi Attack on Abqaiq
Susie Day
You Say You Want a Revolution: a Prison Letter to Yoko Ono
Rich Gibson
Seize Solidarity House
Laura Flanders
From Voice of America to NPR: New CEO Lansing’s Glass House
Don Fitz
What is Energy Denial?
Dan Bacher
Governor Newsom Says He Will Veto Bill Blocking Trump Rollback of Endangered Fish Species Protections
Thomas Knapp
Election 2020: Time to Stop Pretending and Start Over
W. Alejandro Sanchez
Inside the Syrian Peace Talks
Elliot Sperber
Mickey Mouse Networks
September 16, 2019
Sam Husseini
Biden Taking Iraq Lies to the Max
Paul Street
Joe Biden’s Answer to Slavery’s Legacy: Phonographs for the Poor
Paul Atwood
Why Mattis is No Hero
Jonathan Cook
Brexit Reveals Jeremy Corbyn to be the True Moderate
Jeff Mackler
Trump, Trade and China
Robert Hunziker
Fukushima’s Radioactive Water Crisis
Evaggelos Vallianatos
The Democrats and the Climate Crisis
Michael Doliner
Hot Stuff on the Afghan Peace Deal Snafu
Nyla Ali Khan
Spectacles of the Demolition of the Babri Masjid in Uttar Pradesh and the Revocation of the Autonomous Status of Kashmir
Stansfield Smith
Celebrating 50 Years of Venceremos Brigade solidarity with the Cuban Revolution
Tim Butterworth
Socialism Made America Great
Nick Licata
Profiles in Courage: the Tories Have It, the Republicans Don’t
Abel Prieto
Cubanness and Cuban Identity: the Importance of Fernando Ortiz
Robert Koehler
Altruists of the World Unite!
Mel Gurtov
Farewell, John Bolton
Weekend Edition
September 13, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
The Age of Constitutional Coups
Rob Urie
Bernie Sanders and the Realignment of the American Left
Anthony DiMaggio
Teaching the “War on Terror”: Lessons for Contemporary Politics
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: They Are the Walrus
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail