Miss Peru Contestants Take a Stand Against Female Oppression

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

These were the words of the winner of the Miss Peru 2018 beauty pageant as she introduced herself to the audience. Instead of publicly disclosing their physical measurements (bust, waist, hips) as is typically done at the competition, 30 women chose to share shocking statistics related to violence and assault against women.  

Buzzfeed News reported that contestants opted to answer questions regarding their measurements with statistics on the oppression of women in Peru, or the specific city they came from.

“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 percent of women in our country are victims of street harassment.”

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

The hashtag #MisMedidasSon (“#MyMeasurementsAre”) began trending in the following days.

The organizers of the pageant were in on the script change. As each woman stepped up to speak, the screen behind her displayed pictures of women’s battered faces and newspaper stories detailing specific instances of violence against women.

Jessica Newton, the 1987 Miss Peru winner who organized this year’s pageant, indicated that she hoped Miss Peru’s protest could help attract international attention to violence that women in face in Peru.

“Everyone who does not denounce and everyone who does not do something to stop this is an accomplice,” Newton told Buzzfeed.

In the final segment of the pageant, judges asked contestants what policy changes they would make in order to prevent femicides, the murders of women based on their gender.

Miss Peru contestant Juana Acevedo told PRI that coordinating the protest was not easy.

“Some of us said it’s going to look okay. It’s going to look good. And then you start to thinking. It’s going to be different,” Acevedo said. “It is going to tell this country that we are here and we are going to talk about the people that sometimes didn’t feel brave [enough] to talk.”

The women of the Miss Peru pageant plan to continue taking action and raising awareness about the much needed change to the way violence against women is addressed in Peru. Many of the contestants will partake in the #NiUnaMenos (Not One Less) women’s march in Lima on Nov. 25. The #NiUnaMenos movement is a larger campaign against femicide that has sprung up in other Latin American countries, including Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia and Mexico.

“Most of the women are going to be together and start to walk in different streets in Lima and telling the government they are against the violence against women,” Acevedo told PRI. “I am going to be there, and I hope most of the others will be there. ... This is not over. This is just the beginning.”