Ms. magazine  -- more than a magazine a movement

SIGN UP FOR MS. DIGEST, JOBS, NEWS AND ALERTS

FEMINIST WIRE NEWSBRIEFS

ABOUT
SEE CURRENT ISSUE
SHOP MS. STORE
MS. IN THE CLASSROOM
FEMINIST DAILY WIRE
FEMINIST RESOURCES
PRESS
JOBS AT MS.
READ BACK ISSUES
CONTACT
RSS (XML)
 
feminist wire | daily newsbriefs

August-25-09

South Africa Stands Behind Athlete Targeted for Gender Testing

South Africa is defending Caster Semenya, who won the gold medal in the women's 800 meter race at the World Championships held in Berlin last week and is being gender tested by the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAC). Semenya returned to South Africa today to a heroine's welcome: thousands of supporters met her at the airport, including Noluthando Mayende-Sibiya, the country's minister for women, children and disabilities; Winnie Madikizela Mandela, former president Nelson Mandela's ex-wife; and a delegation from the African National Congress' women's league, reported the Mail Online.

The fact that the IAAF is conducting a gender test on Semenya was leaked to the media just prior to the 800 meter race. According to the BBC, the gender test became public only because a related fax was sent to the incorrect person. Though results of the detailed "gender verification" test are not expected for several weeks, IAAF president Lamine Diack has said "It should not even have become an issue if the confidentiality had been respected...There was a leak of confidentiality at some point and this lead to some insensitive reactions," reported the BBC. The IAAF reportedly initiated the test because of previous testing indicating Semenya has elevated testosterone levels and a speedy improvement in performance before she burst onto the national athletic scene.

At a press conference today South African president Jacob Zuma revealed that the country's minister of sport and recreation has written to the IAAF to express disappointment at how Semenya's case has been handled. He said, "It is one thing to seek to ascertain whether or not an athlete has an unfair advantage over others, but it is another to publicly humiliate an honest professional and competent athlete," according to the Guardian UK.

The African National Congress, which is the majority party in South Africa, also said in a statement last week, "We condemn the motives of those who have made it their business to question her gender due to her physique and running style. Such comments can only serve to portray women as being weak. Caster is not the only woman athlete with a masculine build and the International Association of Athletics Federation should know better."

The practice of sex testing began in Eastern Europe in the 1960s. The first time Olympic athletes were tested was at the 1968 Mexico City Games. At the 1996 Games in Atlanta, eight athletes failed the tests but were later cleared. A variety of concerns led the International Olympic Committee to stop requiring the tests in 1999. Several female athletes, including runners Santhi Soundarajan of India and Ewar Kobukkowska of Poland have been stripped of their medals after failing sex tests. Testing is a controversial practice in athletics, in part because chromosomal abnormalities may cause women to fail the tests, even though they may have no competitive advantages.

Media Resources: African National Congress Press Release 8/20/09; Mail Online 8/25/09; Guardian UK 8/25/09; BBC 8/25/09; Feminist Daily Newswire 7/28/08


© Feminist Majority Foundation, publisher of Ms. magazine

If you liked this story, consider making a tax-deductible donation to support Ms. magazine.

 

 

Send to a Friend
Their
Your
Comments
(optional)


More Feminist News

2/27/2015 This Bipartisan Bill Will Hold Colleges Accountable for Ending Campus Sexual Assault - A bipartisan bill aimed at holding colleges and universities accountable for rape and sexual assault cases was introduced in Congress yesterday, spearheaded by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY). Some of the Campus Accountability and Safety Act's key key provisions include a requirement of confidential reporting systems on colleges and universities, minimum training requirements for campus personnel, and stricter penalties for schools found to be in violation of Title IX or the Clery Act. . . .
 
2/27/2015 Houston Is Finally Testing a Backlog of Thirty-Year-Old Rape Kits - The city of Houston, Texas has finally begun testing decades-old rape kits - and in just one week, those have led to hundreds of leads. Houston is one of the first of the major cities nation-wide to clear their backlog of over 6,000 untested rape kit s- some of which were more than thirty years old. . . .
 
2/26/2015 If This Bill Passes Federal Law Will Add Consent to Sex Ed Curriculums - Right now, federal law does not require health or sex education to include sexual assault prevention - but that could change with a new bill introduced by Senators Claire McCaskill (D-MO) and Tim Kaine (D-VA). The Teach Safe Relationships Act of 2015, which was introduced earlier this month, would require all public secondary schools in the country to include teaching "safe relationship behavior" in order to help prevent domestic violence and sexual assault. . . .