Photographer Ami Vitale spoke with James Estrin in a story Thursday in The New York Times about the images she took of girls in Guinea-Bissau in 2000 that have been shared by thousands, including the BBC, in the #BringBackOurGirls social media campaign. That campaign focuses on girls kidnapped from a boarding school in Nigeria.

There are many times when I get upset when people take my photos without permission, but this isn’t about that. I support the campaign completely and I would do anything to bring attention to the situation. It’s a beautiful campaign that shows the power of social media. This is a separate issue.

This is about misrepresentation.

These photos have nothing to do with those girls who were kidnapped. These girls are from Guinea-Bissau, and the story I did was about something completely different. They have nothing to do with the terrible kidnappings. Can you imagine having your daughter’s image spread throughout the world as the face of sexual trafficking? These girls have never been abducted, never been sexually trafficked.

This is misrepresentation.

Ami Vitale

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  • Bruce Siceloff

    I’m glad Ami Vitale responded forcefully about this terrible misappropriation of these girls’ images. I reported on something comparable 2 years ago in India where I came upon a billboard advertising a study-abroad program, featuring the smiling face of a UNC-Chapel Hill student leader who had been murdered four years earlier. – Bruce Siceloff, Chapel Hill NC