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Prejudice Case - Caster Semenya`s Story

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Prejudice is an adverse judgment or opinion formed before hand or without knowledge or examination of facts, usually unfavourable and most importantly it can be a source of humiliation. Recent teenage, Caster Semenya, a South African athlete, won the woman`s 800 metres at the World Athletics Championship in Berlin. Her triumph was overshadowed by growing accusations that she is in fact a man because of the extraordinary performance. Upon winning the golden medal with an extraordinary time of 1:55:45 beating at the same time the Senior and Junior South African records held by Zelda Pretorius at 1:58.85, and Zola Budd at 2:00:09, respectively. Upon winning the golden medal, some people simply thought "wow, that`s an extremely fast young lady" where as others exclaimed "This must be a man". For a long time, Caster Semenya has been a victim of such a prejudice and even though she never said anything to those accusing her of being a man, this has certainly affected her morally and in this respect, Professor Malcolm Collins, of the UCT/MRC research unit for exercise science and sports medicine, told The Star newspaper: "You can destroy someone's life like this".

Caster Semenya`s story is now known worldwide and her family has been of great support to her. In an interview on MailOnline (21st August 2009) her proud mother declared "I know who and what my child is. Caster is all girl, and no one can change that...You can ask any of my neighbours, they would tell you that Caster is a girl." And her father "She is my little girl. I never doubted her gender. She is a woman and I can repeat that a thousand times." However, in the same article, Caster`s former headmaster, Eric Mobida, does not confirm what the family says because he reveals that she was about 15 when he first realized that she was a girl, "She has always been rough and played with the boys. She liked soccer and wore pants to school, never a dress." Caster Semenya has been judged on the appearance which is more like a masculine than a feminine one and this is prejudice. According to an article on MailOnline (23rd August 2009) "sexual `dimorphism`- differences in the bodies of males and females- normally continues during childhood and puberty. In "normal" males, testosterone causes bones and muscles to develop more strongly, the voice box to expand and facial hair to grow. Girls meanwhile grow breasts and facial hair and start to accumulate more fat than their brothers. However, there are vast differences between people- even those who are genetically "normal". Many men develop wide hips and high-pitched voices, while many biological females develop slim-hipped, muscular frames, powerful muscles and deep voice." The case of Semenya could well be associated to that many people have already judged her as being a man and this is very harmful.

The prejudice suffered by Caster Semenya has not only been painful for the persons who have seen her growing up but also for the South African nation as a whole. This is because it is not the first time in the country`s history that it suffers from gender prejudice. Saartjie Baartman (1789-1816) a Khoisan slave woman who 20 years old was taken from Cape Town to London and then to Paris to be displayed naked in streets at their circuses like an animal her European audiences viewed her to be. The story of Saartjie Baartman is another proof of racial prejudice a black woman suffers in the hands of white people. She represents savage sexuality and racial inferiority. Even in our modern and fast moving society women in South Africa are still suffering from gender prejudice in South Africa. It is a true fact that South Africa is progressive as women represent 44.5% of the parliament members, but this only on paper. Yet the reality is very different, says Phumi Mtetwa, executive director of



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