A Must-Watch Documentary: On Her Shoulders

Why The Nobel Peace Prize Nadia Murad’s Story Matters.

By Lupita Franco

In her early 20s, Nadia Murad had the dreams most young women have, whether in small towns or large cities; basically she wanted to have a future and a life. In her own words, “I wanted to grow up and be a hairdresser and have a simple life.”

Her dreams shattered when ISIS attacked her town in 2014, abducting 6,000 women. The older ones were massacred and so the very young ones. The rest were raped, beaten, used and sold as sex slaves. Nadia was one of them.

After three months in captivity and under abuse she -unimaginable- was able to escape. With a little bit of luck and a lot more of courage, she ended up first at a refugee camp and later in Germany, as part of the thousands of refugees welcomed in that country at the time.  

The one who is writing must stop here, so that you watch her documentary and read her book. Certainly, viewers and readers can feel the pain our world is causing to other human beings because they are vulnerable by condition. Hopefully, people will have empathy.

“On Her Shoulders,” a touching and thought-provoking documentary where Nadia recounts the violence and violations to her and others, is being exhibited in several cities in the United States October throughout November. Landmark’s Embarcardero in San Francisco is showing this film on November 2nd. Her memoir “The Last Girl,” is the accompanying piece that provides further details of her saga, including how she lost most of her family and friends.

As an occasional film reviewer, I watched “On Her Shoulders,” and it made me realize both how petty some of our daily so-called First-world-worries are and how bad we are to each other. Because the Yazidis are far away in Iraq, and because what most of us know about that country and its national is mostly propaganda, it is hard for the common, good people to understand their suffering, to see how wrong genocide is, and how we are all part of the problem.

We also are part of the solution if we empathize and try.

How this small town girl went from a free citizen to sex slave to worldwide speaker and Nobel Peace Prize laureate is nothing short of amazing. But one must get to know Nadia and what she represents, even if from far away or through a film, a book, or other mass media.

Her aim of giving a voice to the Yazidis continues to be her goal thus it is on her shoulders. Thousands of the Yazidi people are somewhere at a refugee camp or died in that pursuit, and very few have been able to be accepted by a foreign country. The pain and the emotional wounds inflicted to Nadia’s soul are on her shoulders also. Nadia Murad as well as sexual slaves and abused women will have to deal for a lifetime with such traumatic experiences, whether in Iraq, the United States or anywhere else. And if we do not pay attention and speak up, the world will do nothing for Nadia and many others, and what is worst, we’ ll continue supporting despicable abuse to women and because of that, humanity won’t be able to evolve and transcend.

That is why Nadia’s story matters.

Watch the film on November 2nd in San Francisco at the Landmark’s Opera Plaza. The film is directed by Alexandria Bombach. It runs for 94 minutes. 2018 Sundance Film Festival Winner.

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