Beauty pageants aren’t what they used to be, and that’s a good thing. Because women are more than swimsuit shapes and bra sizes. They’re trailblazers, game-changers, and fighters for equality. Recently, the contestants of Miss Peru 2018 used their platform to take a stand against femicide and violence against women. Instead of telling the crowd their measurements — a tradition for many beauty pageants — all 23 contests gave statistics related to gender-based violence.
Camila Canicoba, from Lima, went first saying, “My measurements are 2202 cases of feminicide reported in the last 9 years in my country.”
Here are more of the statistics the contestants shared:
- Melody Calderón Vega, from La Libertad: “My measurements are 81 percent of aggressors of girls under 6 are close to the family.”
- Samantha Batallanos Cortegana, from Lima: “My measurements are one girl dies every 10 minutes as a result of sexual exploitation.”
- Juana Acevedo Chumpitaz, from Lima: “My measurements are more than 70% of women in our country are victims of street harassment.”
- Luciana Fernández López, from Huánuco: “My measurements are 13,000 girls suffer from sexual abuse in our country.”
- Melina Machuca Roncal, from Cajamarca: “My measurements are more than 80 percent of the women in my city suffer from violence.”
- Kristel Aranda Schoster, from Lima: “My measurements are 2971 of women older than 60 are victims of violence.”
- Almendra Marroquín Gonzales, from Lima (Cañete): “My measurements are more 25 percent of adolescent girls are abused in their schools.”
- Fabiola Diaz Zubiate, from Loreto (Quitos): “My measurements are 72.8 percent of women raped are mothers.”
- Romina Lozano Saldana, from Callao: “My measurements are 3,114 women who are registered victims of trafficking since 2014.”
- Vania Osusky Elias, from Tacna: “My measurements are the 39,412 women between 18 and 58 years of age who suffer from violence in Peru.”
- María José Seminario Navarro, from Lima: “My measurements are 68.2 percent of women in my country suffer psychological and sexual harassment.”
- Pierina Meléndez Ramos, from Tumbes: “My measurements are 31.7 percent of the complaints made by women are because of family violence.”
- Pilar Orue Ramirez, from Lima: “My measurements are the 19 percent of girls from 0 to 5 years old who are sexually abused by their fathers.”
- Jessica McFarlane Olazabel, from Lima: “My measurements are of the 357 feminicides in four years, only 84 resulted in a conviction.”
- Andrea Moberg Tobies, from Loreto: “My measurements are the 6,000 Loretan women who fight for gender equality in my region.”
- Francesca Chávez Ramírez, from Lima: “My measurements are the 24.1 percent of women in the Afro-Peruvian population who have been violated.”
- Kelin Rivera Kroll, from Arequipa: “My measurements are 6,573 cases of violence against women are registered in my region.”
This segment wasn’t just an act. Gender-based violence has been growing not only in Peru, but all across Latin America. Femicide, which is the murder of women because they are women, is a real country-wide problem. According to Remezcla, during the first five months of 2016, 29 cases of femicides were reported in Peru, and almost 6,000 women were cited as victims of domestic and sexual violence. This year, teleSUR, a Latin American outlet, also separately reported that gender-based violence has risen 26 percent between January and April.
Jessica Newton, the pageant’s organizer, told Buzzfeed that they wanted to use Miss Peru 2018 to empower women and speak out against violence towards women. During the bathing suit segment, the projectors showed newspaper clippings of victims. The display offered a powerful commentary about treating women with respect, no matter what they wear or look like. It also asked viewers to re-evaluate how women are treated.
Alongside the rise of #MeToo stories in the United States, these statistics show that the mistreatment of women isn’t isolated to Hollywood or Silicon Valley. It is systemic — and the effects can be serious, from sexually-transmitted disease to posttraumatic stress disorder. Recovery can take a long time and become a life-long journey.
The women of Miss Peru took a brave, public stand to fight for equality using a platform design to objectify them. Valuing women’s fearlessness, and encouraging them to fight for their independence and inner strength can benefit our girls more than we know. Let’s hope respect for all genders becomes the new normal.