Wafcon 2022: Zambian star Banda defended by Human Rights Watch over gender test ‘violation’


The Shepolopolo captain has been kicked out of continental competition, a move their local FA have protested against

The non-governmental organization Human Rights Watch has come to the defense of Zambian striker Barbra Banda after she was denied the chance to compete in the 2022 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations in Morocco. The 22-year-old was barred from taking part after failing FIFA-mandated gender eligibility tests.

Human Rights Watch says Banda’s rights have been violated and also denounced FIFA rules that allow players to be subjected to such tests.

What did Human Rights Watch say about Banda?

“Football authorities caught Barbra Banda, one of the best players in the Zambian women’s team, off guard when they announced that she was not eligible for the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations competition. last week after a “gender verification procedure” determined that her testosterone levels were “too high” to compete as a woman,” a statement from the New York-based body reads.

“Such sex testing procedures are gross violations of human rights as they are stigmatising, stereotyping and discriminatory. FIFA, the world’s highest authority in football, has a policy that encourages such testing, contrary to the responsibilities of human rights organization.

“FIFA policy states that any request by a football association or doctor for a player to undergo an involuntary ‘gender verification procedure’ based on suspicion of their gender, is permitted.”

FIFA challenged to adjust policies

While suggesting that current FIFA regulations are discriminatory, Human Rights Watch added that new, stricter regulations have been introduced even after these policies have been challenged.

“FIFA’s outdated and discriminatory policy has been in place since 2011,” the statement added.

“There is precedent for this harm – and athletes who push back effectively. In 2014, the Indian Athletics Federation reported one of its female runners for having high testosterone and banned her from competition.

“This athlete, Dutee Chand, took her case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport and was reinstated, and the global regulations on sex testing for female runners were removed. Unfortunately, new stricter regulations were introduced in 2018.

“Caster Semenya, the famous South African runner who was declared ineligible to compete, is currently challenging the 2018 World Athletics Regulations before the European Court of Human Rights.”

The human rights watchdog now claims Banda’s rights have been violated and has called on FIFA to adjust its policies.

“Regardless of who performed the sex test on Banda, her medical information has now been leaked – a clear violation of her right to privacy,” he concluded.

“To fulfill its international human rights responsibilities, Fifa must change course, adjust its policy and stand firm alongside current and future female athletes.”

How did Zambia perform at Wafcon?

Zambia didn’t let Banda’s absence affect them negatively as they embarked on a run to the Wafcon semi-finals.

They beat Senegal on penalties in the quarter-finals to set up a draw against South Africa or Tunisia on July 18.

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