These Beauty Pageant Contestants Gave Out Facts About Women's Rights As Their Measurements

"My measurements are 2,202 cases of femicide reported in the last nine years in my country.”

Beauty pageant contestants are used to giving their measurements — bust, waist, hip— in front of a crowd.

But in Peru, where women are getting killed in alarming numbers, aspiring beauty queens used their moment on the stage on Sunday to give a different kind of measurement: how many people have been affected by gender violence.

“My name is Camila Canicoba and I represent the department of Lima. My measurements are: 2,202 cases of femicide reported in the last nine years in my country.”

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

“My name is Luciana Fernández and I represent the city of Huánuco, and my measurements are: 13,000 girls suffer sexual abuse in our country.”

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

“Almendra Marroquín here. I represent Cañete, and my measurements are: More than 25% of girls and teenagers are abused in their schools.”

“My name is Bélgica Guerra and I represent Chincha. My measurements are: the 65% of university women who are assaulted by their partners.”

“My name is Romina Lozano and I represent the constitutional province of Callao, and my measurements are: 3,114 women victims of trafficking up until 2014.”

It wasn’t just the contestants who wanted to get the point across to their audience — violence against women was the theme of the night.

The organizers of Miss Peru 2018 displayed newspaper clippings of prominent cases of murdered and assaulted women as the contestants made their way across the catwalk in bathing suits.

For the final segment, contestants were asked what laws they would change to combat femicides, or murders of women because of their gender.

The problem extends beyond Peru. All across Latin America, a movement called #NiUnaMenos, or Not One Less, has been drawing thousands of women to the streets to demand an end to gender violence.

Eitan Abramovich / AFP / Getty Images

The movement was born in 2015 in Argentina, where the number of femicides has been steadily growing.

Jessica Newton, the pageant’s organizer and a former beauty queen herself, said that the decision to dedicate this year’s Miss Peru event to gender-based violence was made to empower women — and that it was an easy call to make for all those involved.

“Everyone who does not denounce and everyone who does not do something to stop this is an accomplice,” Newton said by phone from Lima.

Newton also defended the bathing suit segment, widely perceived as the most objectifying moment of beauty pageants, as an opportunity to emphasize that women should be treated with respect regardless of what they are wearing.

“Women can walk out naked if they want to. Naked. It’s a personal decision,” said Newton. “If I walk out in a bathing suit I am just as decent as a woman who walks out in an evening dress.”



A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.