Untold stories of Boko Haram survivors now on film

1915

Untold stories of young Nigerian women kidnapped by Boko Haram highlight a documentary revealing diaries kept by survivors forbidden from talking about their captivity.

The diaries, secretly given to US-based documentary producers by former captives, detail life under the jihadist group which, according to the United Nations, abducted more than 1,000 children in the last five years in north-east Nigeria.

Appearing in the film “Stolen Daughters: Kidnapped by Boko Haram” are survivors from Chibok, where the 2014 abduction of about 220 schoolgirls sparked global outrage and girls kidnapped elsewhere in Nigeria who escaped the militants.

Producers Karen Edwards and Sasha Achilli said they were not allowed to ask the released girls, living in a state safe house, about their ordeal on the grounds it would traumatise them again.
“If we did try to talk to them, minders would stop it,” Edwards told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
“I think that’s why they gave us the diaries.”

Boko Haram remains a charged issue politically in Nigeria, where government failed to defeat the militants who waged an insurgency since 2009 to carve out an Islamic state.

About 100 Chibok girls are unaccounted for, while thousands of other abducted children are still missing, campaigners say.

One diary entry given to the filmmakers described three girls who fled but were caught, flogged and thrown into a hole.
“They told us who ever cries or begs for them not to be slaughtered will be slaughtered along with them,” a girl wrote.

A survivor named Habiba tells of being captured aged 15, locked in a cage for four months and forced to marry a soldier.

She escaped, two months pregnant and was caring for her baby and two orphans, boys kidnapped by Boko Haram to be child soldiers, when the filmmakers found them in the streets.
“Her story just reflected so many of the women we saw out there who were so courageous and brave,” Edwards said.
“Despite what happened, they still find it within themselves to be kind to others around them.”

The film will be shown on US-based broadcaster HBO in the United States, Canada and Europe and later in Israel and Russia, publicists said. There are no plans yet to broadcast the documentary in Nigeria, according to the filmmakers.
“Anything that leads to the issue of the Chibok girls not being forgotten is a welcome development,” said Aisha Yesufu, a leader of Nigeria’s Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) campaign group.
“We want the issue to be at the forefront and the world to know they need to be rescued.”



Other such diaries exclusively given to the Thomson Reuters Foundation last year revealed the Chibok mass abduction – the biggest publicity coup of Boko Haram’s jihadist insurgency – was not planned but the accidental outcome of a botched robbery.