When the time came for Miss Peru 2018 contestants to reveal their most intimate measurements on stage, the 23 beauty pageant hopefuls elected instead to deliver statistics of an altogether more shocking nature.
“I represent the constitutional province of Callaomy and my measurements are 3114 women victims of trafficking up until 2014,” declared Romina Lozano, later crowned Miss Peru on October 29.
Camila Canicoba, Miss Peru Lima, told the judges: “My measurements are 2202 cases of femicide reported in the last nine years in my country.”
Another contestant, Belgica Guerra, announced to the audience: “My measurements are the 65% of university women who are assaulted by their partners.”
In a country where incidents of femicide and other forms of gender-based violence are soaring, the contest that precedes the Miss Universe pageant seized the opportunity to call much-needed attention to the issue.
For show organiser Jessica Newton, the national platform provided the perfect opportunity to expose the shocking rise in violence against Peruvian women.
“Unfortunately there are many women who do not know, and think they are isolated cases,” she told reporters. “I think the fact that you are looking at your regional representative, at the queen of your department, giving open and real figures about what is happening in our country is alarming.”
In the final round of the competition, the aspiring beauty queens were asked how they would combat femicide. Lozano, the eventual winner, told judges she would “implement a database containing the name of each aggressor, not only for femicide but for every kind of violence against women”.
In 2016, Peru hosted one of the largest nationwide mobilisations against femicide: 50,000 people demonstrated in the capital, Lima, and thousands more joined protests in 23 extra towns and cities across the country.
“Now nobody can be indifferent to the level of violence,” said Susana Chavez, director of Promsex, a gender rights organization in Peru.
“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 do not reach. We’ve never seen a time when there is more awareness about the problem.”
[Abridged from TeleSUR English.]