How Did the Women in the Beauty Pageant in Peru Denounce Violence Against Women in Their Communities to Create Global Awareness?
Participants in Peru's Miss Universe Pageant broke with tradition and recited statistics detailing violence against women rather than give their body measurements.The organisers also joined in showing news material of prominent cases of gender-based attacks. The 23 aspiring beauty queens were hoping to get through to November's Miss Universe Competition in Las Vegas. Last year thousands of women marched in Peru against gender-based violence. Instead of giving their bust, waist and hip size, the contestants took turns reciting a roll call of shocking data. One contestant said a girl dies every 10 minutes due to sexual exploitation in Peru.
Viewers of the Miss Peru pageant on Sunday were startled when the 23 contestants strutted onstage in sequined gold minidresses, introduced themselves, said "My measurements are..." and then stated facts such as these: More than 70 percent of all women suffer street harassment; 13,000 girls are victims of sexual abuse in Peru; more than 25 percent of Peruvian girls and teenagers are abused in their schools. Pageants typically give out a different sort of statistic — about the measurements of the contestants. And, so, a hashtag was born: #MisMedidasSon (My measurements are) ... It went viral. "We definitely had wanted a different Miss Peru," explains Luciana Olivares, content and strategy manager of Frecuencia Latina, the TV network that broadcast the competition, where the Peruvian representative to Miss Universe is chosen. "But it was only during the last weeks where it became obvious that we needed a cry against violence on women." On the prior Sunday, a volunteer working for the national census reported that she was raped while conducting the poll at the home of a man; he is now in police custody, charged with the crime. Social media exploded with #PeruPaísDeVioladores — Peru, country of rapists, Controversy erupted over the hashtag. Prime Minister Mercedes Araoz, who last year revealed she had been in an abusive relationship, said she was upset about the way the country was portrayed on social media: "Peru is more than that."
Obviously, in the last segment of the pageant, when contestants are typically asked innocuous questions about bettering the world, the women were each asked how they would change the laws to combat violence against women. It was an especially poignant question considering the event that is largely cited for sparking the #NiUnaMenos movement: security camera footage that showed a man dragging his girlfriend by her hair across the floor of a hotel lobby. He was given a suspended sentence and fined roughly $2,000. And although some might find a beauty pageant, especially one that includes a swimsuit portion, a contradictory forum for discussing women’s rights, Newton had this to say: “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.”