Gender

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Members of the Tambourine Army during their March 11 protest. The radical social-justice movement is fighting gender violence and rape culture in Jamaica.

By Desmond Brown

KINGSTON, Jamaica (ACP-IDN) – In the wake of an alarming upsurge in domestic violence and abuse of women and girls, a new group has emerged here with the promise of a revolution for social change, combating gender-based violence in particular – the “Tambourine Army”.

On its Facebook page, the Tambourine Army describes itself as a radical social-justice movement committed to uprooting the scourge of sexual violence and safeguarding the rights of women and girls.

The group first came to public attention on Sunday, February 8, when 14 women staged a peaceful protest at the Nazareth Moravian Church in the central parish of Manchester, rallying support for a 15-year-old St Elizabeth school girl allegedly abused by the pastor of the congregation.

One of the protesters reportedly used a tambourine to hit the then leader of the Moravian Church in Jamaica, Dr Paul Gardner, on the head, and the hashtag #TambourineArmy soon became popular on Jamaican social media in reference to the incident.

“This is not an army that fights with guns and M16s — though they are militant about their cause,” wrote former Jamaican senator and self-described changemaker Imani Duncan-Price in a recent op-ed in the island’s The Gleaner newspaper.

“The aim: to finally make Jamaica safer for women and girls, to deal systematically with the scourge of violence against children and women.”

More than two dozen women were murdered in Jamaica in 2016 and, according to Acting Commission of Police Novelette Grant, a little over 1,400 perpetrators of crimes against women and children over the past 13 months have been arrested.

Attorney-at-law Lord Anthony Gifford, QC, said the Tambourine Army raises a number of constitutional issues that are fascinating for a human rights lawyer to disentangle.

“Issue #1: Women and children are being constantly abused. Most of the worst violations of human rights occur within the home. Men who think they are stronger, including pastors who claim to be interpreters of the Word of God, abuse their power and think they are beyond the reach of justice. It has to stop, and as in many civil rights struggles, the abused are fed up with pious talk that has changed nothing.

“Issue #2: We enjoy the right of free speech and use it all the time, in talk shows and on social media, and on the street. It is a precious right that allows us all to vent our grievances and campaign for change. In the old days in Britain, they used to charge those who agitated for reform with ‘criminal libel’. In Jamaica, the offence of criminal libel was abolished by the Defamation Act 2013. But is it now returning in another form?

“Issue #3: We live under the rule of law, and the justice system should be there to ensure that crimes are reported and investigated, and the perpetrators punished. The presumption of innocence means that we should not label people as guilty until they have been so found after a fair trial. But the system is creaking. Cases take ages to be heard. Most judges do their best to do justice, but the ordeals faced by both victims and accused on the road to justice are often intolerable.”

On March 11, the Tambourine Army organised it debut national protest march against domestic violence, and Gifford said he fully supports the group.

“The issue of violence and sexual abuse cannot be resolved only by talk and no action. Men, too, should be part of the struggle to bring about true equality in relationships, and true care and protection for our children,” he said.

But noted obstetrician, gynaecologist, comedian and poet Michael Abrahams said he does do not agree with some of the tactics employed by the movement.

“The name ‘Tambourine Army’ arose after co-founder Latoya Nugent hit a pastor who is an alleged predator on the head with a tambourine. That was an assault, and I have reservations about naming the movement after such an incident,” Abrahams said.

“I also have reservations about the #SayTheir Names campaign that they initiated, in which victims are urged to publicly ‘name and shame’ alleged perpetrators, as persons with axes to grind can use the opportunity to smear the names of innocent people, even before making formal reports to the relevant authorities.”

Several persons voicing disagreement with the tactics being used by the Tambourine Army, including human-rights advocates sympathetic to their cause, have also been publicly cursed and disrespected by Nugent in social media.

On March 14, Nugent was arrested and charged with three counts of using a computer for malicious communication under section 9 (1) of the Cybercrimes Act of 2015.

Nugent allegedly published information on social media maligning several individuals as sexual predators, leading to formal complaints to the police by some of them.

“The women of the Tambourine Army see themselves as militant warriors who have decided that enough is enough and that it is time to rebel and start a revolution,” Abrahams said.

“Many people are hurting from the sequelae of child abuse, and when people hurt, are marginalised, and are denied justice, their pain will be manifested as anger.”

Then, he noted, there will come “a breaking point when the rules of the society that has failed them will be ignored and they will blaze their own trail. Their actions will offend and hurt some, and there will be casualties and collateral damage.

“Rebellions and revolutions are never pretty. Warriors are not here to play nice. The abuse of children has become normalised in our society, and if this were not the case, the Tambourine Army would not exist.” [IDN-InDepthNews – 28 March 2017]

Photo: Members of the Tambourine Army during their March 11 protest. The radical social-justice movement is fighting gender violence and rape culture in Jamaica.

Note: This report is part of a joint project of the Secretariat of the ACP Group of States and IDN, flagship agency of the International Press Syndicate

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WASHINGTON, Mar 24 2017 – The Congressional Black Caucus is calling on Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the FBI to help in the search for missing black girls in the Washington, D.C., area, following an alarming string of missing children cases from the nation’s capital.

The District of Columbia logged 501 cases of missing juveniles, many of them black or Latino, in the first three months of this year, according to the Metropolitan Police Department, the city’s police force. Twenty-two were unsolved as of March 22, police said.

The letter, dated Tuesday and obtained Thursday by The Associated Press, was sent by Congressional Black Caucus chairman Cedric Richmond, D-La., and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, who represents the District in Congress.

They called on Sessions and FBI Director James Comey to “devote the resources necessary to determine whether these developments are an anomaly or whether they are indicative of an underlying trend that must be addressed.”

According to reports, the names of the missing girls include: Yahshaiyah Enoch and Aniya McNeil, both 13; Juliana Otero, Jacqueline Lassey, Dashann Trikia Wallace, Dayana White and Morgan Richardson, all 15; and Talisha Coles, 16.

Richmond said he hopes to meet with Sessions and bring up the issue. No meeting is currently scheduled, according to the AP.

But President Donald Trump assured caucus members on Wednesday that he would make his Cabinet secretaries available to them.

D.C. police officials, meanwhile, said there has been no increase in the numbers of missing persons in their jurisdiction.

“We’ve just been posting them on social media more often,” said Metropolitan Police spokeswoman Rachel Reid.

According to local police data, the number of missing child cases in the District dropped from 2,433 in 2015 to 2,242 in 2016. The highest total recently, 2,610, was back in 2001.

But the increased social media attention has caused concern in the U.S. capital area, which has long had a large minority population and is currently about 48 percent black.

Hundreds of people packed a town-hall style meeting at a neighborhood school on Wednesday to express concern about the missing children cases.

“Ten children of color went missing in our nation’s capital in a period of two weeks and at first garnered very little media attention. That’s deeply disturbing,” Richmond’s letter said.

Derrica Wilson, co-founder of the Black and Missing Foundation, said that despite the assurances from police, it was alarming for so many children to go missing around the same time.

On Tuesday night, she noted, her group had four reports of missing children and only one had been found.

“We can’t focus on the numbers. If we have one missing child, that’s one too many,” Wilson said.

Wilson said she is concerned about whether human trafficking is a factor, citing the case of 8-year-old Relisha Rudd, who has been missing since she vanished from a city homeless shelter in 2014.

A janitor who worked at the shelter was found dead of apparent suicide during the search for the girl.

“They prey on the homeless, they prey on low income children, they prey on the runaways, they prey online,” Wilson said.

Information from the National Crime Information Center showed there were 170,899 missing black children under 18 in the United States, more than any other category except for the white/Hispanic combined number of 264,443.

Both numbers increased from the year before, which saw 169,655 missing black children and 262,177 missing white/Hispanic children.

“Whether these recent disappearances are an anomaly or signals of underlying trends, it is essential that the Department of Justice and the FBI use all of the tools at their disposal to help local officials investigate these events, and return these children to their parents as soon as possible,” Richmond said.

On Monday, local pastors, activists and parents gathered at the Covenant Baptist United Church of Christ in Washington, D.C., to discuss the disappearance and the possibility of human trafficking, according to Latina.com.

“Sometimes when girls of color are missing they are deemed ‘runaways’ and sometimes that prevents an Amber Alert from being sent out,” Dr. Vanetta Rather, founder of the support group My Sister My Seed, told the group, according to the website.

“It appears that when it’s girls of color there’s not this urgency,” Rather said.

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By Rebecca Theodore

UNITED NATIONS, Mar 17 2017 – The United Nations global Sustainable Development Goals agenda is a pulpit that aims to meet the greatest trials of the 21st century, with an admirable mention of gender equality by 2030.  However, since social progress is also evaluated by the way society treats women, then, it is evident that the many blockades to women’s participation in economic, social, and political life yearn to be understood in a global environment, where the language of gender equality easily dissolves into ideology and objectivity.

Whereas confirmed reports indicate that “$28 trillion could be added to the global GDP by 2025 if women, who make up half of the world’s work-age population, were to achieve their economic potential”, gender work parity remains the crowned monster that prevents women’s active participation in the workforce. Statistics further show that in the United States, women working full time in 2015 were paid just 77 percent of what men were paid. This vividly shows that women are robbed of 23 percent of their pay. Compounded with the threat of violence against women, sexual harassment, the disparaging effects of climate change, and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) confirmation that women and girls comprise 71 percent of human trafficking victims; the interpretation of a coarse language continues to encapsulate the culture of women into a wave of negativity, thus limiting their opportunities, and swapping away the   realities of history.

Yet, despite this economic and historical dilemma, the empowerment of women and girls is one of the most profound sentiments that stirs the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals to glory.

Regardless of Secretary General Guterres’ critical role and his  purpose of  tenacity  and  assurance  for a new chronicle in realizing gender parity at the United Nations; research indicates that “the General Assembly, the highest policymaking body at the United Nations, and the Security Council, the most powerful veto-wielding body in the Organization, continue to prodigiously opt for men over women during its 71-year presence in terms of  employment and other socio-economic advantages.

More to the point, investigations further confirm that the UN 15-member Security Council’s record of accomplishment continues to elect men as UN Secretary-Generals, and that the two highest ranking political positions at the UN are identified as the ‘intellectual birthright’ of men.   Sanam Naraghi-Anderlini, co-founder and Executive Director of International Civil Society Action Network (ICAN) concludes, that “in a world with an increasing number of women in tertiary education and in the workplace, it seems inconceivable that the UN has not, or cannot reach parity between women and men in all levels across the system.”

From this it can be affirmed, that it is the United Nation’s grand proselytization of gender empowerment to women globally that further leads to problems by excluding women from the status quo, thus confining them to the private and subjective role of society. The United Nation’s deteriorating conditions of practicing inequality from within are masked in an institutional androcentric programme that is also leading to a negation of cultural relativism. It is one where generalizations are interpreted as truth and reinstated into the political, thereby making it difficult for women to understand who they are, and what they represent in a political climate swallowed in misogynous gains and androcentric ambitions.

Even though the UN deserves much credit for listing Goal 5 of its Sustainable Development agenda as a bulwark of achieving gender equality and empowerment for women and girls; on the other hand, the UN clearly accentuates ideals of social and economic injustice in the lives of women globally.

To what ends are we seeking liberation and gender parity if the UN Sustainable Development Goal on gender equality comprises of words that contain judgment?

It must also be remembered that if language is the cultural part of society, then, it is evident that language will reflect attitudes and thoughts in the construction of who and what a woman is or represent because meaning cannot be understood without language. Women cannot attain legitimization outside of the discourse of power that subjects them, because “the loss of meaning is created out of a meaning which seeks to prevent women from recognizing the destructive contradictions which comprise reality.”

Elaborating further, if the illusions of psychological autonomy, religion and philosophy continue to be the defining datum that crafts the social, economic, and political life of women, then, it creates a method for male dominance and a reason for repression and alienation for women universally. The philosophical works of Aristotle, Freud et al, coupled with the Christianity dogma of St. Paul should not be the prevailing evidence to further the plight of sexism and discrimination among UN policymakers. Indeed, the male is ruler and the female is subject, but if it is in the spirit of the times (Zeitgeist) that the cultural matrix is to be understood, then, it is plain to see how the UN’s reasoning eliminates the concept of ‘personhood’ and restrict all aspects of human experience, hence, branding women as victims of a tragic misogyny and a catastrophic sexism that knows no bounds.

Notwithstanding the fact that the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a soft law agreement, and governments are not legally required to deliver on the commitments, it must be seen that we now live in a world where technology substitutes humanity. Within this bearing, if United Nation policymakers refuse to indorse pioneering technologies and practices to generate innocuous working environments for women, then it becomes impossible for the onus to coerce a more structural focus on gender equality for women and girls globally.  Moreover, in the great marriage of globalisation, and technological advancement, the adoption of women must also be considered in the great narrative of women in the changing world of work.  If these decisions are ignored, then, women will continue to face colossal eccentricities in building sustainable and productive livelihoods. Gender parity 50-50 by 2030 will be nothing but a ‘fleeting illusion to be pursued but never attained.’

Still, one thing is certain. Women cannot continue to be socialized by the internalization of administrative concepts and paradigms while their struggles for self-determination are eroded in the grinding wheel of capitalist consumption and thirst of androcentric power.  It is good that Goal 5 of the UN Sustainable Development Goal enables women to make choices, but it is also easy to see how this choice is conducive to a given end in control and domination by this very bureaucratic institution.

And for women, this double day is now a standard impasse.

It follows that in a world divided along class and racial lines, it is impossible for women to struggle for transcendence in the concept of Goal 5 of the United Nations Sustainable Development because this notion is the product of denial and erasure. Gender equality is an essential human right. It is not only dividing things into binary categories to understand gender parity and women in the changing world of work, but the inclusion of other voices which are not of the dominant construct also need to be heard.

The pluralistic prospect of Goal 5 of the United Nations sustainable development agenda must also seek to dissuade the social forms of categorization, negative stereotyping, and over representation that stifles the concerted efforts of women, and thwarts transformational changes towards women in the changing world of work.

Consequently, navigating the progression of gender equality to a sustainable future demands a change to institutional language and the prevailing ‘androcentricism’ that continues to bring untold connotations to the scope of human thinking. Women and girls need “access to education, health care, decent work and representation in political and economic decision-making processes to fuel sustainable economies and benefit societies and humanity at large.”

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KINGSTON, Jamaica, Mar 08 2017 -The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) has called for the creation of quality jobs that duly recognize women’s abilities, levels of instruction and productivity, in the framework of International Women’s Day commemorated every March 8.

Although labour market indicators showed a positive trend over the past decade, the labour participation rate for women has stagnated at around 53 percent, and 78.1 percent of women who are employed work in what ECLAC defines as low productivity sectors, where the pay is worse, social security coverage is low, and there is less contact with technology and innovation.

Likewise, women’s unemployment rates are systematically higher than those of men, according to a document prepared by ECLAC’s Gender Equality Observatory for Latin America and the Caribbean.

Between 2002 and 2013, the unemployment rate in Latin America cumulatively fell by 2.8 percentage points, but starting in 2015, that trend has reversed. According to the report Preliminary Overview of the Economies of Latin America and the Caribbean, in 2015 the unemployment rate reached 7.4 percent, with women being the most adversely affected: 8.6 percent of women were unemployed compared with 6.6 percent of men.

In the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean, based on preliminary data for 2016, the unemployment rate increased an average of 0.5 percentage points versus the previous year: the increase for women was 0.7 percentage points while for men it was 0.3 points.

“The labor indicators for Latin America and the Caribbean continue to show large gender gaps between men and women with regard to access to opportunities and rights. The inequalities are rooted in a social system that reproduces stereotypes and preserves a sexual division of labor that limits women’s labor integration,” explains ECLAC’s Executive Secretary, Alicia Bárcena.

These structural factors, according to the United Nations senior official, pose an obstacle to overcoming poverty and inequality in the region, as well as to women’s attainment of economic autonomy – even more so if one considers the current context of economic contraction.

Although the rates of unemployment for women and men vary depending on the country, the gender gap is always favorable to men, except in Mexico, where male unemployment exceeds that of women by 0.1 percentage points, according to ECLAC. Countries such as Belize and Jamaica show gaps in excess of 7 percentage points.

Unemployment rates have remained particularly high among people with lower incomes. In the first quintile in 2013, 14.9 percent of women were unemployed (compared with 10.5 percent of men). In the third quintile, female unemployment was at 7 percent with male unemployment at 4.9 percent, while in the highest-income quintile these percentages fall to 3 percent and 2.5 percent, respectively.

For ECLAC, employment policies should be capable of modifying the current structure of inequality, confronting the existing gender bias in the labor market. It also calls for the recognition and redistribution of time spent on unpaid labor, so that the responsibility of caring for children, dependent persons and older adults does not fall exclusively on women.

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BRADES, Montserrat, Mar 02 2017 – Doctors in Montserrat have embarked on protest action in support of their colleague, Dr. Franklin Perkins, who was arrested on Tuesday based on allegations of indecent assault made by a patient.

Perkins has since been released on bail and will return to court on Friday.

“We are very disappointed in the way the whole thing was managed. We are here really in his defence. Dr. Perkins has been a government and private practitioner since I was a child …and he is very dedicated to his profession,” said Dr. Ingrid Buffonge.

Speaking on a radio station here, she said never in “my entire profession had any patient come forward with accusation such as this.

“As medical professionals, we spend a lot of time with patients and we are particularly vulnerable to accusations like this and therefore as a team we have got to put things in place to make sure that such things don’t happen again.”

She said the doctors strongly believe their colleague is innocent adding “today we are actually on strike.

But Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr. Lowell Lewis said that there were no disruptions to services at the Glendon Hospital or health centres.

Meanwhile, the Montserrat Women’s Resource Centre (MWRC), which provides supportive and educational services for girls and women here, said it is aware of the allegations and recent arrest of Dr. Perkins and wishes that none of this were true.

“The MWRC is disappointed at the precipitate dismissal of this young woman’s claims by respected medical professionals, even while it comprehends the desire of the profession to support one of their own and especially at the strike action announced.

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Sandra Granger

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Feb 17 2017 – The first ladies of five Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders have discussed issues aimed at reducing teenage pregnancy, domestic violence, trafficking in persons (TIP) mother to child transmission of HIV/AIDS and cervical cancer as well as gender based inequalities in the region.

The wives of the leaders of Guyana, Belize, Jamaica, Haiti and Trinidad and Tobago began their two-day meeting on Thursday to identify challenges and discuss solutions on the way forward at their “Forum of the CARICOM’s Spouses of Heads of State and Government on the Every Caribbean Woman, Every Caribbean Child (ECWECC)” initiative.

Guyana’s First Lady, Sandra Granger told reporters that Thursday’s deliberations discussed some of the issues identified including ways to reduce teenage pregnancy, domestic violence, trafficking in persons (TIP) mother to child transmission of HIV/AIDS and cervical cancer, and addressing gender based inequalities.

Mrs. Granger explained that work has already started in Guyana, and the Ministries of Social Protection and Public Health are currently working with teen mothers, domestic violence and TIP victims, however more work needs to be done to better protect women.

She said that the initiative is being supported by several Caribbean First Ladies, but plans and discussions will be circulated to others to get all of them on board, in a tangible way.

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PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Feb 09 2017 –  Canada has announced roughly $70 million in development aid for Haiti a day after the poor country returned to a democratically elected government.

The funding is intended to improve conditions for Haitians, particularly for women and children.

Wednesday’s announcement came a day after Jovenel Moise was sworn in as the Caribbean nation’s president for the next five years.

Haiti had been governed by an appointed president’s interim government for the last year amid a repeatedly derailed electoral cycle that started in 2015.

The largest part of Canadian assistance will go toward the Pan American Health Organization’s work in Haiti, including funding for postnatal care for mothers and their infants. Haiti has the highest maternal mortality ratio in the hemisphere.

Other funding is intended to improve access to education and justice.

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PORT-AU-PRINCE, Feb 05 2017 – On Jan. 4, a tragedy occurred in Haiti —  the latest in a number of gender-based sexual violence against women and children — presented itself for all to witness. A 16-year-old young woman was gang raped and the video of this heinous crime was streamed live worldwide via the Internet. The five men who raped this young girl remain at large. However, on Jan. 26, Haitian authorities reported the arrest of a dozen males ages 16 to 44 suspected of similar criminal acts within the island. According to several Haitian news outlets, the Port-au-Prince prosecutor’s office along with two senators have offered a reward equivalent to $7,500.00 USD for information leading to the arrest of the 16 year old’s alleged rapists.

The problem of gender-based violence in Haiti, particularly child sexual abuse is a public health issue, which has sparked the attention of Word and Action, Inc. (W&A), a Florida based nonprofit organization. W&A’s mission is to support children and families impacted by child sexual abuse both in the States and in Haiti through prevention, advocacy and clinical services. We recognize the legal response to this public health phenomenon has been woefully inadequate and there exist a lack of judicial infrastructure for victims to seek recourse. The reporting of sexual violence to the police in Haiti remains a very difficult and convoluted process. Thus, it contributes to countless cases being under-reported. The Overseas Security Advisory Council indicate that sexual crimes in Haiti have become a major problem and crime statistics are woefully under documented by the Haitian National Police.

As part of its mission W&A has led a campaign of Awareness in various cities in Haiti, and seeks to lead the conversation and collaborate with the Haitian government and stakeholders toward judicial reform. It is time to create preventive laws and measures in order to protect Haiti’s vulnerable children. W&A board members have already reached out to several Haitian lawmakers and will continue to push for concrete actions regarding this important issue. We are also working on a legislative proposal with our legal advisors to advocate for children impacted by gender-based violence. With the support of concerned lawmakers, W&A hopes to submit its proposal to both Haitian legislative chambers.

We urge our local/state-wide community members to reach out to Haitian government officials and ask them to take concrete action to put tackle this problem. The violation of our children must stop. This disconcerting problem of gender-based violence, in particular child sexual abuse, cannot be taken lightly. Our community and our children will no longer be silent. Let us hear and respond our children’s silent cries and provide preventive measures to protect the future generation against sexual predators.

Our prayers and hearts go out to this 16 year old, her family and all those impacted by this traumatic crime. W&A encourages the Haitian justice department to diligently take legal steps to protect the community. We hope that justice will be served swiftly. It’s about saving children’s lives. (Word and Action)

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WASHINGTON, Jan 21 2017 – Thousands of women are expected to gather on Saturday for the Women’s March on Washington, a kind of counter-inauguration after President Donald J. Trump took office on Friday.

The event is an attempt to unify protesters around issues like reproductive rights, immigration and civil rights, but it has also encountered divisions.

Protesters have already started convening around the world, but the main event, in Washington, is set to begin at 10 a.m. Eastern with a rally featuring speakers like Gloria Steinem and performers like Janelle Monáe near the Capitol. Afterward, participants will march down the National Mall.

The “guiding vision” for the march is almost as extensive, and as jargon-laden, as any platform thought up by the Democratic or Republican parties. In addition to reproductive rights, the topics covered include racial justice, L.G.B.T.Q. rights, the environment, wage equity, gender equity and immigrant rights.

Many participants believed Mr. Trump expressed misogynistic views during the presidential campaign, with remarks about Megyn Kelly, Carly Fiorina and Hillary Clinton. After a 2005 recording surfaced in which he said that he could use his celebrity status to make sexual advances toward women, several women came forward to accuse Mr. Trump of inappropriate sexual conduct. He dismissed the recording as “locker room banter” and assailed his accusers.

Demonstrators are challenging the Trump administration on a number of policies, as well. In his inaugural speech on Friday, President Trump did not specifically reach out to women.

“Whether we are black or brown or white, we all bleed the same red blood of patriots, we all enjoy the same glorious freedoms, and we all salute the same great American flag,” he said.

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PRETORIA, Jan 11 2017 – Gender-row athlete Caster Semenya married her long-time partner in an extravagant ‘white wedding’ ceremony which coincided with her birthday – a double celebration she was delighted to share with her fans.

The 800m Olympic gold medalist wore a ‘Prince Charming-style’ outfit of embroidered jacket, gold breeches and velvet slippers for the ceremony which saw her wed Violet Raseboya, who wore a full-length white lace and appliqué dress.

Sharing a string of intimate photographs of the event on instagram, the South African runner referred to her bride as ‘my heart’ and used the hashtag #ourperfectday to sum up their union.

The event, attended by the couple’s friends, relatives, scores of local celebrities and athletes, followed a traditional ceremony a little over a year ago when Caster, who turned 26, reportedly paid a dowry of £1,500 to her bride’s family.

Short videos captured at the exclusive wedding venue in the capital Pretoria, show the pair – who changed into sun-coloured traditional clothes and beaded accessories for the reception – taking to the floor alone for a choreographed first dance, with dry ice swirling around them, before later leading guests in a lively, noisy group cultural dance.

Close friends and family, who included the Olympian’s parents and four sisters, wore dark blue and gold outfits to complement Caster’s ensemble.

Unlike many high-profile weddings, guests were left free to capture their own film and images of the day, which were widely shared across social media, prompting positive comments and feedback.

Posted images included the women posing in family groups, with bridesmaids and attendants, and even Violet having her make-up done for the ceremony.

She wore her dark hair in an ‘up-do’ and finished with a diamante band.

Guests were given ‘thank you’ gifts of bottles of wine, with special labels featuring the lovers, from the upmarket Uitkyk wine estate near Cape Town.

In one particularly intimate snapshot, the women are seeing clasping each others hands solemnly – apparently at the very moment when they were formally united in marriage.

Caster’s victory at the Olympics in Rio last summer was the most bitterly contested event of the games – and she credited Violet, 30, and her home fans with providing the strength and confidence to confront her critics, or ‘haters’ as she called them.

The runner, who has naturally elevated levels of testosterone and was forced to undergo humiliating gender testing to prove she was female, was once forced to take medicine to suppress her testosterone amid claims she had an unfair advantage.

The rules have since been challenged which means she can now compete without the medication, which provoked protest from her fellow competitors in Rio.

British runner Lynsey Sharp experienced the wrath of the South African’s massive fan base which united behind a #handsoffcaster social media campaign, after the blonde Scot complained about the ‘ unfairness’ of having to compete against the faster woman.

Sharp finished sixth in the 800m final at Rio – despite achieving a personal best time – and has previously complained the South African’s condition resulted in ‘two separate races’.

Polish athlete Joanna Jozwik went even further and claimed herself to be the ‘true silver medallist’ and ‘second white’ after finishing fifth behind a white Canadian who came in fourth, two Africans and Caster.

The South African returned home to a hero’s welcome and upon arrival handed her gold medal to Violet, also a runner, in tribute to her support.

She recently completed a degree in Sports Science.

Caster’s ‘intersex’ condition of hyperandrogenism gives her testosterone levels that are three times those usually found in women and approaching those of a man.

She was born with no womb or ovaries and instead, due to a chromosomal abnormality, internal testes.

She spent 11 months on the athletics sidelines while she had tests but was cleared to compete in 2010.

By this time the International Association of Athletics Federations had set a testosterone threshold.

It meant Caster could run again if she took medicine to suppress her testosterone levels.

The ruling was then challenged by Indian runner Dutee Chand, who also has hyperandrogenism.

In 2015, the Court of Arbitration for Sport suspended the rules for two years, meaning Caster could come off the medication.

Critics agree the way she has been treated has shamed the sport, and harks back to 1966 when female competitors at the European Athletics Championship were subjected to a ‘nude parade’ past three gynaecologists.

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