New York Times' Dionne Searcey and photographer, Adam Ferguson had one mission: to portray the ex-victims of Boko Haram through a series of portraits in a dignified manner, as the young women they had become. For so long, the girls' images to the world had just been them as teenagers in dark robes with sad faces.
Dionne and Adam made the journey to Abuja to try to persuade the government to let them meet and photograph the girls. As many of us can imagine, it was a long, difficult process. The girls were still being remanded in government custody for questioning in order to gain information about the 100+ girls still missing and to make sure that they had no lingering loyalties to the terrorist group.
Finally, the government consented and Adam was finally allowed to take pictures of any of the ex-hostages who consented. He shot all 83 images in one day. He also took pictures of 18 girls who surrendered to the authorities rather than blow themselves up with the suicide bombs that Boko Haram had strapped to them.
For many people, these portraits are just photographs. But for the girls and their families, it's an opportunity to see themselves in a whole new light. To reclaim their dignity. They're not victims anymore, they're now survivors.
It has long been recognised that artforms like photography can have potential healing and therapeutic effects. Many people have used photography as a form of personal therapy to help them feel better about themselves and improve their lives. And for these girls who have been through such awful experiences, anything that will help is welcome. Plus they look so beautiful!
You can view the rest of their photos here.
Tech and politics. Is there even a difference between the two?
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