Monday, September 14, 2009

Caster's cries

Being in the magazine industry, and especially because I sit very close to the team who work on a certain running magazine, much of chat has been about our poor Caster Semenya.
The 18-year-old (remember back to what you were like at 18), who beat the world record in the Women’s 800m and thereafter had to face questions about her eligibility to compete as a woman.
By now most of you know that an Australian reporter leaked the results that were only due to be released in November (and kept private if Caster so wished).
From the beginning we discussed how potentially traumatic this must be for a young person, especially coming from a rural village in Northern SA. I sympathise as I too spent my younger years growing up in a rural area in Northern SA (well at least that’s what people in Cape Town think of Tzaneen ‘aka planet Zarnine’ – according to a certain friend).
It has now been reported that the young Caster has gone into hiding.
Can you blame her. I am not familiar with what tribe she is from, but most traditional black African tribal people adhere to strict traditions and are greatly shamed by many things. Especially regarding ones sexuality.
It is not unheard of that men in such communities are only regarded as men once they have gone to the ‘bush’ and had circumcision (performed by other dodgy tribal men), starved and had cruel beatings.
Some women feel they are no yet women unless they give birth to a child (and we already have so many pregnant 12, 13 and 14 year olds on the streets).
But these are tame traditional thoughts for people who believe that strange (free thinking) women are witches.
Imagine what it must be like to be both male and female and have this made public to the world.
Caster has gone into hiding and is receiving trauma counselling in the wake of claims that gender tests have shown she is a hermaphrodite.
International athletics officials have said their verdict will be delivered at the end of November but that the world champion is unlikely to be stripped of her Berlin medal.
WE are all particularly upset with the way our own Athletics officials have handled the whole saga from day 1.
You gotta love the incredible artwork and wit of SA cartoonist Zapiro..... (see att cartooon)...

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