The 276 schoolgirls kidnapped from Chibok in Borno State four years ago by Boko Haram narrated all that transpired between the moment of their capture until their release in the chilling documentary, “Stolen Daughters” by HBO.
The worldwide outcry over this incident birthed the movement #BringBackOurGirls with the former First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama tweeting about it. This drove attention to the incident and led to international bodies wading into the matter.
After several rescue attempts, the government was able to negotiate the release of 82 girls while others escaped or were freed with the remaining still in captivity.
“People were shocked and outraged by the kidnapping at the time,” writer and producer Karen Edwards told ELLE.com, “but when they disappeared and the Nigerian Government was offering little or no new information, the news story moved on.
“It was my experience that when you mention the Chibok Girls and the BringBackOurGirl campaign, people were quick to remember. They were instantly curious about what had happened to them”.
Their stories can now be heard in the HBO documentary “Stolen Daughters: Kidnapped by Boko Haram”, which premiered on October 22.
Several filmmakers were given exclusive access to a secret safe house where the girls were sheltered immediately after their release but on the instructions not to reveal any details about what happened to them during captivity in order to avoid endangering their lives.
Producer Sasha Achilli told ELLE.com that, during her interviews, many girls had a difficult time talking openly about the violence they experienced and often attributed events to a third person rather than speaking directly about themselves.
“In terms of personally hearing the stories of these girls, it is deeply sad,” she said. “You also feel so powerless at times to be able to make a difference…they are victims of circumstance, and the only thing that is different between me and them, as a woman, is purely the fact that I was born in the West.”
In one of the most heartwrenching moments of the documentary, 16-year-old Zahra, one of the Forgotten Girls, describes a time when she was forced to accompany Boko Haram to kidnap other girls.
She remembers one 14-year-old girl whose parents were killed during her abduction; she was then locked in a room and raped by about 10 men. She later died alone in that room.
“She suffered a great deal of pain,” Zahra recalls. “I will never forget her all my life.”
However, Zahra was able to escape from the group with two other girls, though she was the only one who made it back.
Edwards said, “I think it’s inevitable that the fate of the Chibok girls could not remain at the forefront of peoples’ minds after the news cycle moved on and the news stories stopped.
“Forgetting about them in that sense is not the same as the world not caring.
“What the world doesn’t know is the scale of the problem and the thousands of other girls who are kidnapped by Boko Haram. I believe the viewers will care.”
Watch the trailer below: