The 23 contestants of the Miss Peru beauty pageant lined up on October 29 to have their height and weight measured. Instead, the contestants listed off statistics of violence against women committed in their respective countries.
Camila Canicoba, representing Lima, stated, “My measurements are: 2,202 cases of femicide reported in the last nine years in my country.”
Contestant Karen Cueto followed, saying, “My name is Karen Cueto and I represent Lima and my measurements are: 82 femicides and 156 attempted femicides so far this year.”
The winner of the pageant, Romina Lozano, noted that 3,114 Peruvian women have been victims of human trafficking since 2014.
In an announcement before the swimsuit round, Miss Peru’s organizer, Jessica Newton, stated that women are free to dress as they want, and that men cannot justify sexual assault on this basis. Screens in the background flashed newspaper clippings of women who had been found abused, beaten, or dead while the contestants strutted up and down the runway in golden bikinis. Meanwhile, Leslie Shaw sang “Siempre más fuerte,” which translates to “always stronger,” a track that she recorded for a campaign against domestic abuse.
A number of observers were stricken by the severity of the statistics given by the contestants. While the display at the pageant indicates a step in the right direction, the New York Times remarked, “Peru ranks seventh among 19 countries in the region for killings of women.”
Not everybody is embracing the event with open arms. Feminist columnist Regina Limo appreciates that the women in the Miss Peru beauty contest chose to spoke out, but asserts that the pageant is still a harmful artifact of machista culture.