This year’s Miss Peru pageant was unlike one the country had ever seen before. While the contenders still dressed up in ball gowns and sported sparkling bikinis, rather than highlight their own physical attributes they highlighted statistics on violence against women in Peru.
“My name is Camila Canicoba and I represent the department of Lima,” Canicoba said as she walked up to the microphone. “My measurements are: 2,202 cases of femicide reported in the last nine years in my country.”
The Miss Peru pageant strayed from tradition and forced the judges and audience to face the facts.
A report released by Human Rights Watch stated that between 2009 and August 2015 more than 700 women were killed in femicides—the intentional killing of a female—in Peru. And a study from the United Nations reported that more than 60 percent of women experience physical violence at least once in their life.
Last year thousands of women marched in Peru’s capital to protest violence against women; and Jessica Newton, former beauty queen and the event organizer, thought it was wise to bring the issue front and center again.
“I think that the fact that you are looking at your regional representative, at the queen of your department, giving open and real figures about what happens in our country is alarming,” Newton told the AFP news agency.
Some of the contestants weren’t just speaking on behalf of others affected by violence: of the 150 participants, five had been victims of violence.
Violence against women has become a major issue in Peru.
When the time came for the 23 finalists to step up to the microphone and announce their bust, waist, and hip measurements in front of the crowd, they announced alarming statistics.
Each contestant stated an alarming fact related to violence against women.
“My name is Juana Acevedo and my measurements are: More than 70 percent of women in our country are victims of street harassment.”
“Almendra Marroquín here,” another contestant said. “I represent Cañete, and my measurements are: More than 25 percent of girls and teenagers are abused in their schools.”
Images of women affected by violence played on a screen behind the finalists during the pageant.
— AJ+ (@ajplus) October 30, 2017
During the final segment of the show when the contenders are typically asked lighthearted questions, the women were asked what they planned to do to combat violence against women.
Luciana Olivares, content and strategy manager of the TV network that broadcast the pageant, explained to NPR that organizers knew they wanted to bring attention to the growing issue and decided it would be best to bring the issue to light on a show that many would watch.
“We decided that we had the opportunity to turn the pageant around and use it as a platform to mobilize, raise awareness and speak up,” Olivares told NPR. “We knew the whole country would be watching.”
According to AFP, the 23 finalists will lead a march on November 25 protesting violence against women in Peru.