The Caster Semenya the world must not ignore

Submitted by Yomi Omogbeja on 13 November 2009 - 3:06pm

A lot has been said and written about Caster Semenya's gender issues since the South African teenager won the women's 800m title at the World Athletics Championships in Berlin last summer, but one thing missing in all these media reports is the most obvious of all.

That Caster Semenya is an 18-year-old who grew up in a rural village deep in South Africa's northern Limpopo province with little or no exposure to the complexities of international athletics and competitions.

She was born and raised a girl and would never had imagined in her entire life that she would be confronted with such intrusive media onslaughts nor the equally humiliating and dehumanising medical probe she was made to go through under the pretext of undertaking a routine doping check.

Caster was never a cheat, but she had now become a pawn in the dirty game of politics and racial determination in the post-apartheid South Africa.

Another irony is that the press from the western countries, where the the issue of confidentiality and women's rights are bandied about on daily basis, were the ones revelling in publishing unsubstantiated, unconfirmed and unofficial reports about a young teenager as facts.

Every parent knows that whatever comes out after nine months pregnancy, you can no longer alter but can only manage in order to give that child a good life.

It is my hope that the media, especially in SA, would stop their endless innuendoes, speculations, cartoons and other intrusions into Caster Semenya's privacy even after the results are released in the coming weeks.

Shameful leaks

A friend of mine one said to me that "the media had gone to the dogs" and this is more pronounced in the lack of respect for individuals' privacy or their rights to live in peace by the so called 'red tops' who were at the centre of these unconfirmed leaks.

The reports claim the young girl does not have a womb, has no ovaries and has male and female sex organs. The IAAF say they never revealed the results and that a panel of experts will sit and give them their views before they meet and talk to the young girl.

A lot had been written about the role of the President of the Athletics South Africa, Leonard Chuene in the matter. Chuene Lied, yes, but what did he really lied about? 

He lied to Ms Semenya about the nature of the test she was to take, and to the South African governement and people and the rest of the world that he was not aware that the test was done on the girl. He mistated his own involvement in the case, so should take responsibility and quit.

But, it's not Chuene alone who's at fault here. There's someone who should be held responsible and shamed for the embarassment caused to Ms Semenya.  Could someone's who was part of the testing system and who did not have his way, have been the one behind these shameful leaks.

The question now that I'll like answered is, who leaked the results? There are people out there who will sell their souls for money and who would do anything to prove a point and to boost their ego.

Those with no shame and who can not be trusted with sensitive data like this have no business working for or with the International Athletics Federation or in the medical profession anywhere in the world.

Such people can not be regarded as men or as women of substance, but boys and girls. Where I grew up in Africa, men are entrusted with the secrets and lives of their people and communities, which they defend with their own lives.

Honourable men and women I know keep their mouths shut until all investigations are concluded, but the 'sissyfication' of the world today, now throws up a lot of so-called 'men' who had lost their manhood.

Little wonders then that when a black African 18-year-old that do sound and looked like a man turns up, they wet their pants.

Shameless media

It's shocking that a responsible media organisation could come up with a headline screaming 'she's a hermaphrodite' and others carrying on from that diplomatically claiming initial gender tests on the Semenya showed 'her testosterone levels were three times higher than that expected in an average woman', when the official results had not been released.

Once again, here are men and mere mortals now playing God and deciding what quantity of testosterone a man or woman should have.

Some media organisations, especially the ones in the UK and Australia owned by the same man, even allows readers comments describing  a human being as 'IT'. Such was the level of depravity that allows grown-ups to dedicate time on the internet to castigate and call a young woman name for being who God had created her to be.

IAAF Council will meet in Monaco next week, Friday November 20, to review the report of the Semenya's test and also to discuss plans for a wholesale review of its guidelines on gender verification, which were last updated in 2003.