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HEALTH

The Miss Peru 2018 contestants send a powerful message to stop violence against women in their country, and the video goes viral.

Miss Peru

This year’s contestants of Miss Peru showed that beauty pageants, like any other mass-viewed event, could leave a positive mark on the society. When the time came for the participants to present themselves, the women decided to make a better use of viewers’ time than simply offering their body measurements.

“My name is Camila Camicoba and I represent the department of Lima. My measurements are: 2,202 cases of femicide reported in the last nine years in my country,” said the first contestant in front of the judges.

“My name is Luciana Fernández and I represent the city of Huánuco. And my measurements are: 13,000 girls suffer sexual abuse in our country,” continued the next contestant.

As the show went on, each contestant shared with the audience a statistical glimpse into Peru’s situation of violence against women.

 

 

Being a Women in Latin America

The message comes in a much-needed moment. The situation of women’s rights in Latin America is serious, alarm human rights advocates. Every single day 12 women in Latin America and Caribbean die because they are women, according to ECLAC, UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean.

The plague of gender-driven violence has provoked a massive outcry across the continent.  The situation peaked last year in the wake of a brutal murder of a 16-year-old Lucía Pérez from Argentina. After being abducted, the schoolgirl from Mar del Plata was drugged, raped, and tortured. The perpetrators tried to cover the evidence by cleaning her body. They then brought her to a local hospital, arguing she had overdosed. Lucía died the same day due to extensive internal injuries and a cardiac arrest.

The tragedy of Lucía prompted a series of marches both in Argentina and across Latin America, demanding the end of violence against women and girls. Protesters united under the hashtag #NiUnaMenos (not one woman less). Among them was Michelle Bachelet, the Chilean president and former director of UN Women. “The brutal murders have brought me to unite with #NiUnaMenos, social mobilisation born in Argentina, that in our country too expresses the frustration of our compatriots over all cases of violence against girls and women,” she said in a special message posted on her Twitter account.

Solution or a Cause

The question is, how a beauty pageant like Miss Peru contributes to the issue. Many claim that organizing events that put women on display to decide which one is physically most attractive does more harm than good. For this reason, in recent years a number of beauty contests have been banned across the globe.

For instance, at least 20 municipalities in Argentina banned organizing beauty contests, on the grounds that they promote unhealthy body image and foster sexist stereotypes. “The project is against objectifying women in contests that measure and weigh candidates as if they were cows,” said in 2014 Carolina Zunino from the Argentine Workers’ Central Union (CTA) that fought beauty pageants.

Opponents of beauty contests emphasize that gender-driven violence stems largely from the historically constructed division of social roles, according to which men should exert power over women. By focusing on women’s physical appearance, beauty pageants reinforce the notion that women’s purpose is to be just looked at. How come there are no male Miss Peru contests?

Only in this particular case, women who walk down the catwalk to address an important social problem show a different side of women empowerment. After all, no one said beautiful women cannot use their beauty to their advantage.

My measurements: 1 in 3 women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or sexual violence by a non-partner at some point in their lives.

 

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