With the 2017 Miss Universe competition fast approaching, countries across the globe are going through the final preparation stages, the most important being the selection of the beauty queen who will go to Las Vegas to represent their country.
During Peru’s televised audition process featuring the 23 beauty-queen hopefuls, viewers were left shocked when the show took a very political twist.
Breaking from tradition, the show wasn’t about light entertainment this year, with contestants and organisers instead using their air time to highlight the shocking reality of gender-based violence in Peru.
Instead of reciting their body measurements like asked, the 23 contestants took it in turns to recite a roll call of gender-based violence statistics.
— Miss Universe (@MissUniverse) October 31, 2017
‘A girl dies every 10 minutes due to sexual exploitation in Peru,’ recited one contestant, while another followed with, ‘More than 70% of women in the country are victims of street harassment.’
And the politics didn’t stop there – there were more breaks from tradition as the pageant contestants were quizzed not on lightweight ambitions and hobbies (like every year previously), but instead about women’s rights, asked what they would do about violence in Peru.
The winner and beauty queen chosen to represent Peru, Romina Lozano, had outlined plans ‘to implement a database containing the name of each aggressor, not only for femicide but for every kind of violence against women.’ She continued: ‘In this way we can protect ourselves.’
Gender-based violence is a pressing issue in South America, and according to the statistics, Peru ranks as second only to Bolivia for the worst record of violence against women in the continent.
‘Unfortunately there are many women who do not know, and think they are isolated cases,’ explained the contest organiser, Jessica Newton, in an interview with the AFP news agency.
In fact, Newton went on to detail how five of the original 150 contestants in Peru’s contest had been victims of violence, and in some cases rape.