On the night of 14–15 April 2014, 276 female students were kidnapped from the Government Secondary School in the town of Chibok in Borno State, Nigeria. Responsibility for the kidnappings was claimed by Boko Haram, an extremist terrorist organization based in northeastern Nigeria.
According to UNICEF, Boko Haram has kidnapped more than 1,000 children in northeastern Nigeria since 2013.
On International Day of the Girl, Oscar award-winning director Kathryn Bigelow and Smuggler founder Patrick Milling-Smith are drawing attention to the plight of the many young girls who’ve been abducted by Boko Haram via a chilling campaign that features interviews with female survivors.
With help from journalist Dionne Searcey, Bigelow and the rest of her team spoke to these girls about their harrowing and brave experiences.
The resulting videos and photography portraits feature their individual stories of survival and escape.
In one video, a woman by the name of Fatima explains how she agreed to carry a bomb after refusing marriage to a Boko Haram insurgent.
After accepting the group’s mission to bring the explosive to a congested area, she managed to find help and escape.
The “I Am Not a Weapon” campaign, which encourages viewers to donate to the International Rescue Committee, has a dedicated website and Instagram account. Both were created by Austin-based agency Preacher to support the initiative.
“In times of crisis, young girls are at greater risk of neglect and exploitation,” the website reads.
“They can be kidnapped, trafficked, recruited into armed groups, forced into early marriage and genital mutilation, and experience violence from their partners in their homes.
“Conflict intensifies gender inequality and oppression, affecting adolescent girls disproportionately.”
According to the site, donations to the International Rescue Committee will go towards helping girls and other survivors of violence rebuild their lives.
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