Beauty pageant contestants are used to giving their measurements — bust, waist, hip— in front of a crowd.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
Karla Zabludovsky is the Mexico bureau chief and Latin America correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in Mexico City.