Beauty pageant contestants are usually required to give their physical measurements — bust, waist, hip — on the stage, in front of a crowd. But at a time when women are getting killed in alarming numbers in Peru, aspiring beauty queens in the country used their moment of fame to give different kinds of figures. When asked to give their measurements, each one of them gave the statistics of the number of people affected by gender violence.
Juana Acevedo, a contestant said, “My measurements are: more than 70% of women in our country are victims of street harassment.”
The next one added, “My name is Melina Machuca, I represent the department of Cajamarca, and my measurements are, more than 80% of women in my city suffer from violence."
Another contestant revealed, “My name is Bélgica Guerra and I represent Chincha. My measurements are the 65% of university women which are assaulted by their partners.”
The other contestants also echoed such shocking figures.
“My name is Romina Lozano and I represent the constitutional province of Callao, and my measurements are 3,114 women victims of trafficking up until 2014.”
“My name is Camila Canicoba and I represent the department of Lima. My measurements are 2,202 cases of femicide reported in the last nine years in my country.”
It wasn’t just the contestants, violence against women was the theme of the night. Organizers of Miss Peru 2018 even displayed newspaper clippings of prominent cases against women. In the final round of the pageant, the contestants were asked what laws they would change to combat femicides because of their gender.
Defending the bathing suit round, which is widely perceived as the most objectifying moment of beauty pageants, Jessica Newton, the pageant’s organiser and a former beauty queen herself said in a telephonic interview to Buzzfeed, “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,” she added.
Sometimes, we all need an extra nudge to realise the importance of a crisis that extends beyond Peru.