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Miss Peru Contestants Recite Gender Violence Stats Instead of Bust Measurements

"...My measurements are: more than 80 percent of women in my city suffer from violence."

Rather than offering the usual megawatt smiles and swimsuit looks you might expect, this year’s contestants in the Miss Peru pageant used the platform to force judges and audience members to confront gender violence. Amid a slew of sexual harassment allegations against prominent men in the United States (which reached something of a crescendo with the rise of the #MeToo campaign), their disruption was a reminder that women all over the world are fighting every day to improve the quality of their lives.

Miss Perú, creando conciencia en la sociedad. #MissPeru2018

A post shared by Organización Miss Perú (@missperuofficial) on

During the part of the Miss Peru pageant when contestants would be expected to give their waist, hip, and bust sizes, the women instead offered statistics about gender violence in their country. BuzzFeed News reported on the grim accounts from a country where women are the victims of abuse in staggering numbers, which jarred with the glittering gold gowns and stilettos of the women reading them. They included:

“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.”

“My name is Juana Acevedo and my measurements are: More than 70 percent of women in our country are victims of street harassment.”

“Almendra Marroquín here. I represent Cañete and my measurements are: More than 25 percent of girls and teenagers are abused in their schools.”

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

Organizers also displayed newspaper clippings behind the contestants during the swimsuit competition, with headlines describing the murder and assault of women as they crossed the stage. Organizer Jessica Newton also defended the swimsuit segment against accusations of objectification, saying that “women can walk out naked if they want to.”

In the final round, contestants were asked how they would best help to end femicide in Peru. The initiative is part of a larger movement in Latin America, #NiUnaMenos, “not one less,” started by Argentine feminists. More than 50,000 Peruvians joined in #NiUnaMenos protests in August. The issue has become even more of a flashpoint recently after Maritza García, the president of Peru’s women’s commission, said that women were at fault for the rising rate of femicide.

Pageants are undergoing more scrutiny than ever as female participants and organizers like Newton attempt to bring the very patriarchal tradition into the 21st century. They’ve been a site of controversy for Donald Trump, who once owned the Miss Universe pageant (and has been accused of walking in on contestants as they changed), and have come to represent a pattern of misogyny that has festered elsewhere in his presidency. (Just this week, he commented on the issue of “weight problems” with a little girl.) While the actions of the Miss Peru contestants might not change the fundamentals of the pageant industry, they at least shed light on what happens when the women themselves are put in charge—starting with being valued for their voices, instead of only their body parts.

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Source Article (Out Magazine)

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