Premieres Monday, October 22 at 8 PM ET/PT on HBO
This past May marked the first anniversary of the release of 82 of the 276 Nigerian school girls who were kidnapped in 2014 from a school in Chibok, Northern Nigeria, and hidden in the vast Sambisa forest for three years by Boko Haram, a violent Islamic insurgent movement.
Written and produced by Karen Edwards (HBO’s “Ebola: The Doctor’s Story” and “Hunted: The War Against Gays in Russia”) and directed by Gemma Atwal (HBO’s “Marathon Boy”), STOLEN DAUGHTERS: KIDNAPPED BY BOKO HARAM tells the story of the girls’ time in captivity and follows their subsequent lives over the course of one year.
Granted exclusive access to the freed girls, who were taken to a secret government safe house in the capitol of Abuja upon their release last year, the film shows how the young women are adapting to life after their traumatic imprisonment and how the Nigerian government is handling their reentry into society.
Following a global social media campaign with the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls, featuring global celebrities such as Michelle Obama, huge pressure was brought to bear on the Nigerian Government to get the girls back. Three years later, 103 had been freed and a handful had escaped. STOLEN DAUGHTERS: KIDNAPPED BY BOKO HARAM chronicles the young women’s experiences following their return, including reunions with family members they had not seen since being kidnapped, as well as the process of coming to terms with what happened to them.
The kidnapped girls, known as the “Chibok Girls,” are required to live in a protected environment, where contact with the outside world is severely limited, although they are provided with education and counseling.
While they are discouraged from talking about their time in the forest, some girls do reflect upon their experiences as they learn to adjust to life on the outside. STOLEN DAUGHTERS spotlights Margret Yama and Hannatu Stephens, two girls from the group of 82 that was released in May 2017, as they reunite with family and friends. They eventually progress to a residential, government-funded program at the American University of Nigeria (AUN) in Yola, Nigeria.
The fate of Margret, Hannatu and the rest of the Chibok Girls could not be more different than that of thousands of other Nigerian women and girls who have fallen prey to Boko Haram and are known as the “Forgotten Girls.” In the northeastern city Maiduguri, which has been the site of numerous attacks by Boko Haram and remains extremely volatile, some Forgotten Girls share disturbing stories of their abduction and treatment at the hands of the terrorist group – and of their eventual escape from captivity.
Their troubles haven’t ended after their escape from the Sambisa forest, however. With female suicide bombers having killed scores of people in the city, many of these girls are treated with suspicion because of their connection to Boko Haram. Forgotten Girls enjoy none of the privileges afforded Chibok Girls. Many live hand-to-mouth in slums and refugee camps, abandoned by the Nigerian state, but are determined to tell their stories and move forward with their lives, despite the obstacles. In the film, their names have been changed to protect their identities.
Meanwhile, Margret and Hannatu, both now 22, go through an emotional adjustment to new lives in the safe house, and recall their experiences in the Sambisa Forest. Margret, a bright and dedicated student, hopes to go to medical school someday. Hannatu, whose leg was severely injured by a bomb attack when she was captured, has an improved prosthetic, alleviating much of her pain.