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Beauty Pageant Contestants Go Off-Script To Stand Up For Women's Rights

The pageant contestants used their moment of fame to bring to light the atrocities facing women in their country.

While national beauty pageants may be increasingly viewed as relics of the past in the United States, they continue in South American countries to garner earnest national attention and provide both fame and fortune for successful contestants. However, on Oct. 29, the contestants of Miss Perú 2018 forewent the typical decorum and ceremony to bring to light the plight of women in their nation.

When presented, each contestant was asked to share her measurements with the audience. Miss Perú Lima, Camila Canicoba, led the procession and offered her scripted — though wholly unexpected by the audience — response.

"My measurements are: 2,202 cases of femicide reported in the last nine years in my country,” she said in a translation provided via BuzzFeed.

It quickly became clear as other contestants spoke that their responses weren’t an instance of select women going rogue, but rather a concerted effort by the contestants to bring to light the issues facing women on a prominent national stage.

“My name is Juana Acevedo, and my measurements are: more than 70% of women in our country are victims of street harassment,” another Lima contestant, Juana Acevedo, responded to the question.

Even the pageant’s organizers were involved in this sobering break from tradition as graphic images of assaulted women were projected while the contestants walked.

A movement has spread across Peru and other South American countries represented by the hashtag #NiUnaMenos, which translates to “not one less.” The cause has brought many to march and demonstrate in cities in an effort to end gender violence.

Speaking to BuzzFeed by phone from Peru, the pageant’s organizer, Jessica Newton, said the decision to break from decorum was an easy one amid the current climate and hostility that women face. “Everyone who does not denounce and everyone who does not do something to stop this is an accomplice,” Newton said.

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