A decorated runner who won medals for India while competing as a woman was charged with rape on Monday after a gender test indicated she is actually a man, according to media reports.
Pinki Pramanik, 26, became a national star after rising from childhood poverty to win gold while anchoring India’s 400-metre relay team at the 2006 Asian Games. Pramanik won a silver medal at Sydney’s Commonwealth Games the same year.
Pramanik became mired in controversy in June after the now-retired runner’s live-in girlfriend accused Pramanik of being a man masquerading as a woman and of raping her. Pramanik denies all the charges.
On Monday, Agence-France Presse reported that the police had charged Pramanik with rape after a medical board set up to determine Pramanik’s gender concluded Pramanik is a man. Indian newspapers quoted Pramanik on Monday accusing the police of conspiracy and saying she had not seen a copy of the medical panel’s report, despite her requests.
She has also been charged with impersonation, cheating, assault and intimidation, and “cohabitation caused by a man deceitfully inducing belief of a lawful marriage.”
AFP quoted the chairman of the medical board as saying Pramanik is a “male pseudohermaphrodite,” a condition normally called XY intersex. It means that the chromosomal sex and internal sex organs indicate the person is male, while the external genitals appear female or are ambiguous.
Determining an intersex person’s “true gender” is fraught with difficulty — medical, personal, and political. In some XY intersex cases, the person may develop fully female genitalia and identify as a woman, having no idea that their chromosomal sex is male. In other cases, the external genitalia can be ambiguous — a mix of both.
Pramanik’s partner, Anamika Acharya, 30, went to police on June 14, claiming Pramanik is actually a man and had assaulted her regularly and raped her several times. Pramanik was arrested and later released on bail. A video of Pramanik completely naked and undergoing a gender verification test went viral after the June arrest. A human rights commission reprimanded the state police for dealing with Pramanik’s case insensitively, according to reports.
Pramanik retired in 2008, disappearing from the public eye and buying a house in the eastern city of Kolkata.