Semenya row goes to UN
SA athletics boss quits IAAF
THE CASTER Semenya gender row reached fever pitch yesterday as Athletics South Africa (ASA) boss Leonard Chuene quit the International Association of Athletics Federation’s (IAAF) council and South African MPs accused the global body of turning the Polokwane teenager into a 21st century Saartjie Baartman.
In a direct reference to the 18th century Khoisan woman, who was publicly displayed naked in Europe because of her unusual shape so that people could prod her naked genitals with their umbrellas, Parliament’s sports committee chairman, ANC MP Butana Khompela, yesterday accused the IAAF of being sexist and racist.
He was echoed by ID leader Patricia de Lille.
“Just because she is black and she surpassed her European competitors, there is all this uproar,” Khompela said. He said the sports committee would lodge a complaint against the IAAF with the UN over the “gross and severe undermining” of Semenya’s rights and privacy.
“There are many female white athletes taking part in the competition who look like men but there is no upheaval, they were never subjected to such a condition.”
Yesterday Chuene informed the Weekend Argus that he had relinquished his IAAF office to fight the body “tooth and nail” over its decision to have the teenager gender tested. “It is an insult to our country. Are we going to allow other people to set the agenda for us as African people just because we are in Europe? I say no.
“There will be no more tests on this child. No one will touch this child until she comes home. There will be no more press releases. I want to see the scientists that can prove that she is not a girl. Children are not taken to laboratories to see what their gender is. We look at one place and we know; why must she be subjected to this? How you look and behave is a God-given thing. You do not have a say in that.”
But Nick Davies, IAAF spokesman, said the IAAF was not saying Semenya was guilty of deceiving anyone over her gender.