Bare women bar oil

One of Nigeria’s main oil terminals on the Niger Delta has halted production due to a threat by a group of women, aged between 30 and 90, to strip.

Stripping is regarded as extremely insulting behaviour by the people who live along the Niger Delta, where western oil companies have set up extensive oil drilling and exploitation facilities, sometimes at the expense of the local populations’ habitat.

This time it was Chevron’s Escravos (Slaves) Terminal which was practically shut down as tens of women blocked the nearby airstrip and helipad and threatened to strip naked. Their leader, Helen Odeworitse, declared “Our weapon is our nakedness”.

The women have two basic demands. One, that a percentage of the oil revenue be spent on improving the living conditions of the local population and two, that the local menfolk be employed by the oil companies, so that the local people can benefit from the local resources in Nigeria’s poorest region.

This protest is the latest in a series of struggles by the Ogoni people of Ogoniland, whose leader the writer Ken Saro Wiwa was hanged in the mid 1990s by the Nigerian authorities after protesting about the activities of Shell, whose oil exploration works were polluting local farmland.


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