Miss Peru Pageant Contestants Use Platform to Bring Awareness on Violence Against Women

 

Women are killed solely because of their gender so much that this type of murder has its own name - femicide.

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Violence against women exists in all countries but in Peru the fight against gender-based violence is prevalent. According to the Ministry of Women and Vulnerable Populations, a report revealed that there has been a 26% surge in complaints about gender violence between the months of January 2017 through April 2017. A total of 2,415 complaints. 

On Sunday,  a traditional beauty pageant in Lima took an unexpected turn when the 23 beauty contestants were asked to provide numbers for the body measurement portion of the competition. However, the numbers they provided weren’t the size of their bust, waist, and hip but rather statistics on violence against women in Peru. 

The pageant contestants introduced themselves by name and region and provided a statistic on gender-based violence against women and girls in Peru: 

“My name is Carmila Canicoba and I represent the Lima region and my measurements are 2012 cases of femicide were reported in the last nine years in my country.” 

“My name is Juana Acevedo and my measurements are: 70% of women in our country are victims of street harassment.” 

"My name is Luciana Fernandez and I represent the city of Guanacu. My measurements are 13,000 girls suffer from sexual harassment in our country." 

“My name Melina Machuca I represent the department of Cajamarca and my measurements are: more than 80% of women in my city suffer from violence.” 

"Greetings. Almendra Marroquin. I represent Lima. My measurements are more than 90 percent of teenagers are abused in their educational centres." 

And another said: "My name is Noelia Castro and I represent the department of La Libertad, and my measurements are the 300 homicides occurred in our country this year." 

The winner, Romina Lozano, who will go on to represent Peru in the Miss Universe pageant in November reported, “My measurements are 3,114 female victims of trafficking have been registered since 2014.” When Lozano was asked, "If you had the opportunity to change the laws, what do you think would be the appropriate change to end the plight of the country's femicide?” Lozano responded by saying, “My plan would be to implement a database, which would include the name of every aggressor, not only for femicide but also for every assault made on a woman, in order to know who that person really is and to ensure it does not continue to happen.” 

This was the winning answer of the night and it brings to light the importance of changing public policy to implement measures to hold perpetrators accountable. The penalty for femicide in Peru is 15 years, only 5 years short of aggravated homicide which ranges from 20-25 years. 

In fact, light sentences and government inaction were some of the main reasons Peruvians took to the streets of the capital in August of 2016. In just the first 5 months of 2016, 29 cases of femicide were reported. The campaign #NiUnaMenos which paraphrases the words of murdered Mexican activist and poet Susana Chavez Castillo: “Ni una mujer menos, ni una muerte más” (Not one woman less, not one more death) protested sexual violence. The march in the capital which estimated to have included 50,000 people including President, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, along with first lady Nancy Lang. 

The theme of the night was clear and the message brought on stage by the contenders is important. Bringing awareness on a platform that is viewed nationally, helps start a discourse for social and cultural changes because violence against women is not personal it is a national issue. 

Buzzfeed spoke to Jessica Newton, Miss Peru’s 2018 organizer, who said "Everyone who does not denounce and everyone who does not do something to stop this is an accomplice." 

In the best way possible the show continued to denounce violence against women, by having the 13 finalists parade in their bikinis, showing that despite the article of clothing a women wears, it does not be warrant intimidation, harassment, or violence. This was done while singer Leslie Shaw sang Always Stronger, a song she recorded for a campaign against domestic violence. 

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Cristian Rivero, the presenter of Miss Peru 2018, explained at the end of the presentation: "This is the message of Miss Peru. We do not want a country with more violence."