STRASBOURG, France, Oct. 27 (UPI) -- The European Parliament has awarded the 2016 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought to Nadia Murad Basee Taha and Lamiya Aji Bashar, Yazidi survivors of sexual slavery by the Islamic State.
Both women were captured on Aug. 3, 2014, when the Islamic State killed all the men in the village of Kocho in Iraq's Sinjar District -- Murad and Aji Bashar's hometown. The village's women and children were enslaved. The women were bought and sold several times to be exploited as sex slaves.
"During the Kocho massacre, Murad lost six of her brothers and her mother, who was killed along with 80 older women deemed to have no sexual value," the European Parliament said in a statement. "Aji Bashar was also exploited as a sex slave along with her six sisters. She was sold five times among the militants and was forced to make bombs and suicide vests in Mosul after IS militants executed her brothers and father."
In November 2014, Murad was able to escape with the help of a family who smuggled her out of IS-controlled territory. She settled in a refugee camp in northern Iraq and then traveled to Germany.
In December 2015, Murad -- who was recently awarded the Council of Europe's Václav Havel Human Rights Prize -- addressed the United Nations Security Council's first-ever session on human trafficking about her experience as an Islamic State sex slave.
In September, she became the first U.N. Goodwill Ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking, a role in which she will attempt to raise awareness about the horrors of human trafficking.
Aji Bashar tried to escape the Islamic State several times before succeeding in April after her family helped pay local smugglers. As she fled the pursuing Islamic State on her way to Iraqi government-controlled territory a landmine exploded, which killed two people she was with and left her injured and nearly blind.
Though injured, she successfully escaped and was sent for medical treatment to Germany, where she reunited with her surviving siblings.
"Since her recovery Aji Bashar has been active in raising awareness about the plight of the Yazidi community and continues to help women and children who were victims of IS enslavement and atrocities," the European Parliament added.
The Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought recognizes individuals who fight intolerance, fanaticism and oppression to defend human rights and freedom of expression. It is named in honor of Soviet physicist and political dissident Andrei Sakharov, and has been awarded annually since 1988.
In 2011, the prize went to five representatives of the Arab Spring in recognition and support of their drive for freedom and human rights.
In 2015, the award was given to Raif Badawi, a Saudi Arabian blogger who was imprisoned and flogged publicly for criticizing the country's religious establishment. And is still imprisoned!