25 NGOs Announce 2017 Int’l Women’s Rights Award to Ex-ISIS Sex Slave Turned Activist


25 NGOs Announce 2017 International Women’s Rights Award to Yazidi Teen Who Escaped ISIS Sex Slavery & Now Fights Back

Human rights event of the year on Feb. 21 to spotlight abuses in Iran, Russia, Turkey, Tibet, Saudi Arabia, Cuba, North Korea, Vietnam, Venezuela, Mauritania & Maldives

Shirin, a Yazidi teenager to be awarded the 2017 Geneva Summit International Women’s Rights Award,
wrote a book on her traumatic story as an ISIS sex slave to help other victims.

GENEVA, Feb. 9, 2017 –  One of the world’s most prestigious international women’s rights awards will go this year to Shirin, a Yazidi teenager who escaped nine months of ISIS sex slavery, in recognition of her courage in authoring a memoir and speaking out about her captivity, a global coalition of 25 human rights organizations announced today.

Shirin will receive the 2017 Geneva Summit’s International Women’s Rights Award at a major ceremony to take place on Tuesday, February 21, 2017, where she will address UN diplomats, along with hundreds of human rights activists and journalists from around the world attending the 9th annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy.

Nine Months of Horror

Shirin was just 17 years old on August 3, 2014, the day her world was destroyed. ISIS fighters captured her village, massacred her community, and sold her into sex slavery.

Over the course of nine horrific months, Shirin suffered unrelenting rape as she was sold as a wife to nine separate ISIS terrorists.

The Resilience to Speak Out

Shirin managed to escape the grasp of ISIS and flee as a refugee. In Germany, despite the enormous pain required to tell her story, Shirin took action to alert the world to the fate of her people.

German journalist Alexandra Cavelius helped Shirin to chronicle her experiences in the recently published book I Remain a Daughter of the Light. The title of the book is an allusion to the significance of light within the Yazidi faith.

“I am telling my story for my people,” writes Shirin. “So people never forget what ISIS did to our people. Many more are still fleeing, many are in camps.”

Shirin also adds that she “wrote the book to show that it is ISIS that is evil, not Islam.”

Shirin’s book, I Remain a Daughter of the Light, was recently published in Germany.

25 NGOs to Present 2017 International Women’s Rights Award at Geneva Summit

Shirin was chosen “for her heroic work to bring awareness to the ISIS genocide of the Yazidi people. She is the voice for thousands of victims of the most brutal case of systematic gender violence in the world today,” said Hillel Neuer, the executive director of UN Watch, a co-organizer of the conference together with Liberal International, Human Rights Foundation, and more than 20 other human rights groups.

Before an estimated crowd of 700 diplomats, journalists and human rights activists at the Geneva Summit, Shirin will place the international spotlight back on the ongoing plight of Yazidi girls. According to a recent estimate, as many as 3,500 Yazidi women still remain in ISIS captivity.

This is the second year that the prize will be awarded to champions of the Yazidi cause. Last year, Vian Dakhil, the sole female Yazidi member of Iraqi parliament, and Dr. Jan Ilhan Kizilhan, a Germany psychologist who has treated over 1,100 female Yazidi victims of ISIS, were the co-recipients of the prestigious award.

Shirin will join some of the world’s most courageous champions of human rights at the Geneva Summit, including dissidents, activists, victims and relatives of political prisoners from Cuba, Maldives, Mauritania, Russia, Turkey, Tibet, Venezuela and Vietnam, who will be testifying on the human rights situation in their countries. A high-profile North Korean defector, and Iran’s most frequently jailed journalist, will also speak.

Mohamed Nasheed, the veteran human rights activist who was elected president of the Maldives only to be arrested and jailed as a political prisoner, will be one of the keynote speakers. Amal Clooney, his lawyer, has received death threats for defending Nasheed. See selected presenters below.

“Focal Point for Dissidents” on Eve of UNHRC’s 2017 Session

The acclaimed annual conference is timed to take place in Geneva days before foreign ministers gather to open the 2017 U.N. Human Rights Council session.

“It’s a focal point for dissidents worldwide,” said Neuer. The global gathering is acclaimed as a one-stop opportunity to hear from and meet front-line human rights advocates, many of whom have personally suffered imprisonment and torture.

“The speakers’ compelling and vivid testimonies will aim to stir the conscience of the U.N. to address critical human rights situations around the world,” said Neuer.

Subjects on the program this year include discrimination against women, jailing of journalists, prison camps, Internet freedom, religious intolerance, and the persecution of human rights defenders.

Videos of past speaker testimonies are available at www.genevasummit.org.

Admission to this year’s February 21, 2017 summit is free and open to the public, but registration is mandatory. For accreditation, program and schedule information, visit www.genevasummit.org. The conference will also be available via live webcast.

For media inquiries or to request interviews, please email secretariat@genevasummit.org

2017 Geneva Summit Presenters

Yazidi Teen: “I was raped by ISIS as a sex slave”

Shirin is a Yazidi teenager who escaped ISIS sex slavery in 2015. Determined to spread awareness of the horrors of the Yazidi genocide with the world, she recently published her book I Remain a Daughter of the Light.


Just Released: Vietnam’s Most Famous Political Prisoner

Dang Xuan Dieu is a Catholic activist for democracy in Communist Vietnam. After 6 years in prison, he was released just last week. During his imprisonment, Dieu was a champion of civil disobedience and became the face of Vietnamese dissent.


Battling Slavery in Mauritania

Biram Dah Abeid is the founder of the Initiative for the Resurgence of the Abolitionist Movement (IRA) and the face of Mauritania’s anti-slavery movement. After his recent release from Mauritanian prison, the Christian Science Monitor named him one of five “unsung heroes” of 2016.


The Human Rights Heroes Inside Iranian Prisons

Taghi Rahmani has spent 14 years in Iranian prisons. His ailing wife, eminent human rights activist Narges Mohammadi, is currently languishing as a political prisoner. The couple have dedicated their lives to the struggle for human rights in Iran.


Investigating Philippines President Duterte

Chito Gascon is Chair of the Commission of Human Rights of the Philippines, and a staunch opponent of the extrajudicial war on drugs waged by President Duterte. He is leading figure in the country seeking to ensure that human rights are respected.


Uncovering Saudi Arabia’s Human Rights Record

James Jones is an Emmy-winning documentary filmmaker. He directed and produced Saudi Arabia Uncovered, which used undercover footage on the ground in Saudi Arabia to expose the Kingdom’s human rights violations to a national TV audience in March 2016.


Human Rights Hero, President, Political Prisoner

President Mohamed Nasheed, living in exile in Britain since 2016, is considered the Nelson Mandela of the Maldives. A lifelong human rights dissident, he is leader of the opposition and an advocate for democracy in the Maldives. He was violently ousted from the presidency in 2012, and made a political prisoner in 2015.

Escaped Tibet to Testify on Slain Religious Leader

Nyima Lhamo escaped Tibet in July 2016, leaving her daughter and mother behind, to speak the truth about the suspicious circumstances of the death of her uncle, prominent Tibetan religious leader Tenzin Delek Rinpoche. He was a political prisoner for 13 years until his sudden death in 2015.


Russia Today: Daughter of Assassinated Dissident Boris Nemtsov

Zhanna Nemtsova is a journalist and the daughter of the late Russian Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov. An outspoken critic of Putin, Nemtsov was assassinated in February 2015. Zhanna carries on the legacy of her father as the founder of the Boris Nemtsov Foundation for Freedom.

Turkey: Assault on Freedom of the Press

Can Dündar is a leading Turkish journalist and the former editor-in-chief of Cumhuriyet newspaper. After he published footage of Turkish State Intelligence transferring weapons to Islamists in Syria, he was arrested and targeted in an assassination attempt. Dündar was forced into exile in June 2016, and now lives in Germany.


Bride of Russian Political Prisoner Struggles for Justice

Anastasia Zotova married jailed Russian activist Ildar Dadin in a February 2016 ceremony inside his prison. Her husband is serving a three-year sentence for peacefully protesting Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. Zotova continues to advocate for justice as reports of torture against Dadin have surfaced in recent months.

Organized by UN Watch together with a cross-regional coalition of 25 other human rights NGOs.

On the eve of the U.N. Human Rights Council’s 2017 session,
courageous champions of human rights from around the world will
unite to place urgent situations on the international agenda.

February 21, 2017
Centre International de Conférences Genève
17 rue de Varembé, 1202 Geneva

Register now:

Interprétation simultanée en français