Participants in Peru’s Miss Universe Pageant turned the show into a powerful gender violence protest.
From body measurements to the parading swimsuit competition, beauty pageants have long been associated with degrading questions and tasks related to women’s bodies.
But this year the contestants of Miss Peru 2018 used the competition to highlight violence against women and the fight for gender equality. Instead of informing the judges of their body measurements (from bust to waist and hips), they went against tradition and shared shocking statistics of violence against women.
And it was incredibly, incredibly powerful.
On Sunday (29 October) the women took to the stage to individually share the statistics on live TV.
“My name is Camila Canicoba and I represent the department of Lima. My measurements are: 2,202 cases of femicide reported in the last nine years in my country,” revealed one woman, as translated by BuzzFeed.
Another stated: “My name is Juana Acevedo and my measurements are: more than 70% of women in our country are victims of street harassment.”
And one more said: “My name is Luciana Fernández and I represent the city of Huánuco, and my measurements are: 13,000 girls suffer sexual abuse in our country.”
In the final round of the competition, the women were asked to discuss how they would best combat femicide, instead of the usual lightweight questions about hobbies and ambitions.
The winner of the Peru pageant, Romina Lozano, representing Callao department, said her plan would be “to implement a database containing the name of each aggressor, not only for femicide but for every kind of violence against women. In this way we can protect ourselves.”
The contest organiser, Jessica Newton, told the AFP news agency: “Unfortunately there are many women who do not know, and think they are isolated cases.
“I think that the fact that you are looking at your regional representative, at the queen of your department, giving open and real figures about what is happening in our country is alarming.”
She added that, out of the 150 participants in Peru who had begun the contest, five had been victims of violence, including rape.
In a separate interview with Buzzfeed News, Newton called upon the people of Peru to join the protest against violence in their country, saying: “Everyone who does not denounce and everyone who does not do something to stop this is an accomplice.”
She added: “Women can walk out naked if they want to. Naked. It’s a personal decision.
“If I walk out in a bathing suit I am just as decent as a woman who walks out in an evening dress.”
Images: Rex Features / Miss Peru