A dressing down: Miss Universe contestants protest gender violence

Beauty queens hoping to represent Peru at the 2017 Miss Universe competition used their moment in the limelight to draw attention to violence against women

During the segment in televised heats in October when contestants ordinarily announce their bust, waist and hip measurements, competitors instead recited hard-hitting statistics about the violence women face in their country.

“My name is Camila Canicoba and I represent Lima. My measurements are: 2,202 cases of femicide reported in the last nine years in my country,” said the first contestant, as she took to the microphone on stage in Lima.

“My name is Karen Cueto and I represent Lima and my measurements are: 82 femicides and 156 attempted femicides so far this year,” said the second.

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The data was revealed to a backdrop of newspaper clippings of stories about violence against women.

Beauty pageants in Latin America are often criticised as being sexist and patriarchal. But the 23 Miss Peru contestants took up the suggestion by the pageant’s organiser, former beauty queen Jessica Newton, to dedicate the event to empowering women in the country which has a shocking record for gender-based violence.

“These competitions focus on many stereotypes about women and judge them by their physical characteristics, but they are able to impact a broad group of women and men that feminist groups like us do not reach,” said Susana Chávez Alvarado, director of Promsex, a gender rights organisation in Peru.

“So it is very important that they have mentioned the matter. There has never been more awareness about this problem of gender violence.”

Images by Alvaro Ugaz



This article is featured in issue 92 of Positive News magazine. Subscribe now to get the magazine delivered to your door each quarter.