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21 August 2009

'Caster defies societal expectations'

The world athletics 800m champion Caster Semenya, who is caught in controversy about her gender, has refused to conform to societal norms and expectations, Gender Links said.

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The world athletics 800m champion Caster Semenya, who is caught in controversy about her gender, has refused to conform to societal norms and expectations, Gender Links said on Friday.

"We should celebrate Semenya on her return not just because she is bringing back a gold medal, but because she has refused to conform to societal norms and expectations." said Colleen Lowe Morna, executive director of Gender Links.

Eighteen-year-old Semenya won the 800m at the World Athletics Championship in Berlin, Germany on Wednesday - in the fastest time in the world this year at one minute 55.45 seconds.

However, amidst her victory the International Association of Athletics Federations has reportedly ordered a gender verification test for Semenya.

’Gender testing wrong’
Lowe Morna said when little girls were being told not to play soccer, Semenya declared she loved the sport. When she was teased and humiliated and told to pull down her pants before she could use the "ladies", she cast her energies and concentration into running. Lowe Morna said gender testing was wrong.

"What would such a test involve, determining if a person looks or thinks or acts like a woman or a man. And how exactly does a woman or man think or look or act?

"She is being questioned on the basis of our assumptions about how a woman should look and behave, not the biological facts.

"If Semenya helps us to see past all that has made our society blind to these possibilities for women, rendering them politically, socially and economically second class citizens in our society, her agony will not have been in vain," Lowe Morna said. – (Sapa, August 2009)

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