Beyond Measurements: Miss Peru Beauty Pageant Shifts Focus to Gender Violence
At the opening of every beauty pageant is the often criticized moment in which each contestant steps up and shares her measurements: waist, hips, and bust. However, during the nationally televised Miss Peru Pageant, rather than announcing their respective body measurements, the contestant instead used this time to draw attention to the high rates of gender-based violence in Latin America.
All twenty three participants proceeded to recite statistics surrounding violence against women and girls in Peru. “My name is Karen Cueto and I represent Lima and my measurements are: 82 femicides and 156 attempted femicides so far this year,” one contestant announced on stage.
Other statistics that were referenced include: 70 percent of women are victims of street harassment,13,000 girls suffer sexual abuse, and a girl dies every ten minutes due to sexual exploitation in Peru.
The winner of the pageant, Romina Lozano, also divulged her “measurements”: “3,114 female victims of trafficking have been registered since 2014”.
According to the Observatory of Citizen Security of the Organisation of American States, Peru ranks second in South America for having the worst record of violence against women, following only Bolivia.
Last Aug, Peru witnessed the congregation of over 50,000 people in the country's capital, where protesters rallied against the high rates of femicide in Peru. The protest preceded the prominent case of Cindy Arlette Contreras, a Peruvian lawyer, who was dragged by the hair through a hotel lobby by her former boyfriend, Adriano Pozo. Due to the international coverage Contreras’s case received, she was awarded the International Women of Courage Award by first lady, Melania Trump.
Throughout Latin America, the movement known as Ni Una Menos (Not One Less) has brought together thousands of women to protest the inequities that women face in the workplace, home and on the streets
Newspaper clippings and images depicting scenes of gender-based violence were displayed behind contestants as they shared their solutions to decrease the high rate of femicide and sexual assault in Peru.
Susána Chavez, director of Promsex, a gender rights organisation in Peru, praised the 23 contestants for their efforts that night stating: “These competitions focus on many stereotypes about women and judge them by their physical characteristics, but they impact a broad group of women and men that we [feminist groups] do not reach... “We’ve never seen a time when there is more awareness about the problem [of gender violence].”