Contestants in Peru’s Miss Universe Pageant broke traditions and took turns reciting data about gender violence. The women read out the statistics instead of reading out their bust, waist and hip sizes.

Every 10 minutes, a girl dies in Peru due to sexual exploitation, said one contestant. Another said over 70 per cent of women in Peru are victims of street harassment.

“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,” said another contestant.

Yet another contestant said: “My name is Bélgica Guerra and I represent Chincha. My measurements are: the 65% of university women who are assaulted by their partners.” 

A screen showing newspaper clippings about crimes against women was displayed in the background. The pageant organisers were prompted to take action after a video, which showed a naked man brutally dragging his girlfriend by the hair, went viral. The man did not get any jail time

“Everyone who does not do something to stop this is an accomplice,” said Jessica Newton, pageant organiser and former beauty queen.

“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.”

The contestants were also asked how they would best combat femicide in the final round of the competition.

When it comes to women’s rights the statistics in Peru are grim:  One United Nations study found that more than 50 per cent of Peruvian women will experience severe domestic violence in her lifetime. A week before the Miss Peru contest, the hashtag #PeruPaisdeVioladores- “Peru country of rapists” even began trending on Twitter.

Kudos to the organisers of Miss Peru for making beauty pageants a feminist affair. Beauty pageants aren’t necessarily perceived as the beacons of women’s empowerment, and we are glad that the organisers and participants of Miss Peru, used a traditionally superficial platform to delve deeper into women’s issues.

Also Read: Beauty pageants to business news: Mini Menon’s journey through journalism

Picture Credit: News.com

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