Beauty pageants are often critiqued for their objectification of women, but this year’s Miss Peru contest brought attention toward a greater force harming women across the country and throughout Latin America.
While introducing themselves at the beginning of the contest, Miss Peru 2018’s 23 candidates forewent sharing their body measurements for sharing statistics on violence against women and femicide, described broadly as the intentional murder of women. After stating, “my measurements are,” the contestants shared their assigned statistic, either touching on an issue affecting their region or their country as a whole.
“My measurements are 2,202 cases of femicide reported in the last nine years in my country,” Camila Canicoba, a contestant from Lima, opened up the pageant.
“My measurements are 82 femicides and 156 attempted [femicides] this year so far,” Karen Cueto, another Lima contestant, followed.
The theme of challenging violence against women was carried throughout this year’s pageant. Cristian Rivero, the host of Miss Peru 2018, explained that this year’s competition was dedicated to the topic, and that for their final segment, the women would be asked what laws they would change to challenge femicide.
“It’s not just about these 23 women. It is about all the women who are entitled and deserve respect. No more violence,” Rivero said.
During other portions of the contest, such as the swimsuit competition, newspaper clippings of media coverage on murdered or assaulted women were displayed across the stage’s background—a morbid but confrontational method that got the pageant’s viewers to face such issues.
Jessica Newton, a former Miss Peru and contest organizer, told BuzzFeed News that the team behind the pageant decided to focus on gender-based violence as a way to empower women. Despite the criticism that swimsuit portions of competitions have drawn for the rating of women’s bodies, Newton also defended the segment, saying women should be treated with respect regardless of how they choose to dress.
“Everyone who does not denounce and everyone who does not do something to stop this is an accomplice,” Newton said. “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.”
The statistics shared by the contestants at the beginning of the show detail just how many female Peruvians suffer from gender violence. Here are 22 of those facts, translated from Spanish to English (by BuzzFeed News’ Karla Zabludovsky, Mirror, El Comercio, and via the YouTube-generated Spanish subtitles). A 23rd contestant, Francessca Cháves from Lima, did not complete this portion of the pageant:
- Camila Canicoba, from Lima, said, “2,202 cases of femicide reported in the last nine years in my country.”
- Karen Cueto, from Lima, said, “82 femicides and 156 attempted [femicides] this year so far.”
- Melody Caldreón, from La Libertad, said, “81 percent abusers of girls younger than 5 years old are close to the family.”
- Samantha Batallanos, from Lima, said, “One girl is killed every 10 minutes as a result of sexual exploitation.”
- Juana Acevedo, from Lima, said, “More than 70 percent of women in our country are victims of street harassment.”
- Luciana Fernández, from Huánuco, said, “13,000 girls suffer from sexual abuse in our country.”
- Noelia Castro, from La Libertad, said, “300 homicides occurred in our country this year.”
- Melina Machuca, from Cajamarca, said, “More than 80 percent of women in my city suffer from violence.”
- Kristel Aranda, from Lima, said, “2,971 women over 60 years old are victims of violence.”
- Almendra Marroquín, from Cañete, said, “More than 25 percent of girls and teenagers are abused in their schools.”
- Fabiola Diaz, from Iquitos, said, “72.8 percent of abused women are mothers.”
- Bélgica Guerra, from Chincha, said, “65 percent of university women…are assaulted by their partners.”
- Romina Lozano, from Callao, said, “3,114 female victims of trafficking were reported up until 2014.”
- Vania Osusky, from Tacna, said, “39,412 women between 18 and 58 years old suffer violence in Peru.”
- María José, from Lima, said, “8.2 percent of women in my country suffer sexual and psychological abuse.”
- Pierina Meléndez, from Tumbes, said, “31.7 percent of reports made by women are for domestic violence.”
- Pilar Orue, from Lima, said, “19 percent of girls between 0 and 5 years old are sexually abused by their parents.”
- Jessica McFarlane, from Lima, said, “Of the 356 femicides in four years, only 84 got better.”
- Diana Rengifo, from Ucayali, said, “More than 300 women in my city are physically and psychologically attacked.”
- Andrea Moberg, from Loreto, said, “6,000 Loreto women are fighting for gender equality in my region.”
- Susan Rodríguez, from España, said, “62,400 people regularly report violence against women.”
- Kelin Rivera, from Arequipa, said, “There are 6,573 cases of violence against women reported in my region.”
Here’s a full video of the introductions and competition below:
H/T BuzzFeed News