Nigeria, Gender & Militarisation in the Niger Delta

On the 26th May, a landmark trial will begin in New York when Royal Dutch Shell goes on trial for complicity in human rights abuses against the people of Ogoniland including the November 10th 1995, hanging of 9 leaders of MOSOP [Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People).

In 2000, as part of a Niger Delta Women for Justice [NDWJ] project, I undertook 3 weeks of field research gathering the testimonies of women of the Niger Delta, including Ogoni women, on the violence committed by both the multinational oil companies and the Nigerian Federal government. Over the next few weeks I hope to write a number of posts on the Niger Delta which will cover testimonies by the Ogoni women, the part they played in MOSOP and the refusal to allow Shell back into Ogoniland as well as some background into MOSOP and the struggle led by Ken Saro Wiwa.

The following essay [published in Feminist Africa – 10, 2008] is based on the above research together with a number of smaller investigations by NDWJ of violence against women and their responses, between 2000 and 2008. In the essay I examine both the types of violence committed against women of the Niger Delta and their collective and individual responses to these acts of violence……………..

The ways in which women engage in acts of resistance range from everyday simple acts, which when maintained over a period of time, can become transformational and extreme, leading to organised and confrontational acts (Green, 1999). Women in the Niger Delta have used and continue to use a variety of forms of resistance such as dancing and singing, collective action including demonstrations and strikes, testimonies, silence, and the use of culturally specific responses such as stripping naked. They have also refused to alter work routines and habits such as opening up market stalls, collecting water, participating in women’s meetings and they have struggled to maintain their daily routines amidst the chaos and violence that surrounds them. These acts of resistance are bound within local cultures as well as with the socioeconomic and political context.

Continue reading Women’s Responses to State Violence in the Niger Delta