Two doctors and nurses unions spoke out against the
leaking of private medical information relating to athlete Caster Semenya.
"These actions will undoubtedly have life-changing consequences for her and possibly serious effects on her physical and mental health," said SA Medical Association (Sama) chairwoman Prof Denise White in a joint statement with the Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (Denosa).
"We appeal to government to provide Ms Semenya with the
essential professional care and protection to support her through
"We are concerned by the leakage of Semenya's confidential health information, and call on all health professionals to go back to basics, in particular those of protecting and practising health professional-patient confidentiality," Denosa general secretary Thembeka Gwagwa wrote in the statement.
It also pledged support to the Semenya family as the 800m gold medallist weathered a storm over her gender.
SA govt written to UN
Denosa spokesman Asanda Fongqo said the comment was not directed at South African health professionals in particular, as the leaks appeared to have begun in Australia, but wanted to emphasise that medical professionals took an oath of confidentiality when they
joined the profession.
Meanwhile, the government has written to the United Nations to investigate whether Semenya was treated in line with its protocols on gender and equality, an earlier statement read.
In the letter to the UN's Division for the Advancement of Women (DAW) Minister for Women, Children and People with Disabilities Noluthando Mayende-Sibiya argues there has been a blatant disregard for Semenya's human dignity.
She believes the matter violates at least three international commitments governed by the UN on protection and promotion of rights of women.
It undermines article 13 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, which requires that measures be put in place to eliminate discrimination and promote the rights of women to participate in sports.
It violates the Beijing Platform for Action which calls for gender-sensitive programmes for girls and women of all ages and support in all areas of athletics, including coaching and administration at the national, regional and international levels.
And it also contradicts the Brighton Declaration of 1994 which calls for a sporting culture that values and enables the full involvement of women in every aspect of sport.
Matter has ‘severe consequences’
According to her letter to DAW director Carolyn Hannan: "The equal opportunity to be involved in sport for leisure or for competition, is the right of all women and men, girls and boys. I would therefore like to request that the UN Division for Advancement of Women investigates this matter as it has severe consequences for women participation in sports globally.
"There should be some degree of transparency from the IAAF about the sequence of events that led to Miss Semenya's gender being subjected to such unjustified public scrutiny."
Mayende-Sibiya argues that in terms of South Africa law governing the population register, Semenya is a woman. "The questioning of her gender is based on [a] stereotypic view of the physical features and abilities attributable to women. Such stereotypes demonstrate the extent of patriarchy within the world's sporting community," she said. – (Sapa, September 2009)
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