20 August 2009

Leave Caster Semenya alone!

I join the ANC, Cosatu, SAFPU and others in condemning those that are making ridiculous accusations against Caster Semenya. She is a hero for all South Africans and especially young athletes. The ANC issued a statement condemning this and said, “Such comments can only serve to portray women as being weak.”

Semenya clocked 1min 55.45sec for the year's fastest time and this caused the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) to request gender verification test. SAFPU is claiming that “imperialist countries are pushing their racist agenda” against Africans, and while that may be going a bit too far, one surely does wonder why they only decided to do such tests now. Not that they are justified or not in doing them – they should have done their tests timeously and with greater respect and sensitivity.

According to Dr Ross Tucker, these allegations have been following Semenya for a few years now and there was ample time to have cleared up any concerns that anyone may have had. Tucker also implicitly blames her management for not being the ones to clear it up, but with such a sensitive issue, it would have admittedly been quite difficult.

He says that it was reported that Semenya was born a hermaphrodite (having both male and female reproductive organs) and that she was cleared by testing done by Athletics South Africa. But Semenya is going to be a victim any way that this pans out. She is running and winning and getting medals. If they somehow go through with this process and find that she is not "entirely female" and possesses secondary male characteristics as a result of some natural condition, then she will possibly lose her medals and titles. If the tests show nothing, then was all this really necessary for an 18 year old to go through?

She is not being humiliated for cheating or taking drugs or because she committed any crime. “Her crime was to be born the way she is born," said ASA predident Leonard Chuene.


Hajira Amla said...

I think that international sports bodies are all guilty of discrimination against women. Women's sports always take a back seat to the men's. You'll never see a female F1 driver, or see a female soccer player in the Premier League. Caster Semenya is not unique. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanis%C5%82awa_Walasiewicz

Where do you cross the line? Would they do gender testing on a male athlete who looks a bit feminine? Are they going to go around asking all the female athletes if they were born with penises?

Fact: Semenya is a great athlete and a South African and I believe that her human rights have been violated in this case, especially in the timing and the approach. It stinks.

faranaaz said...

Agreed. This is a really horrible and insensitive way to meddle with someone's life. I think it could be disastrous for Semenya if she is found to be not-entirely-female. If she's disqualified from competition and has to go back to her village and old life, there's a chance she will be ostracised by people in her area. If there were doubts about her gender they should have been dealt quietly, with sensitivity, before the competition, not after the whole thing became a media circus.