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Miss Peru Pageant Calls Peru Out on Gender Violence

Camila Canicoba, the Miss Peru contestant from Peru’s capital city, Lima, posed onstage in a copper one-shoulder dress and left the world unprepared for the statistics she publicized in lieu of measurements.

“My measurements are 2,202 cases of femicide reported in the last nine years in my country,” Canicoba stated as she looked straight into the camera.

The other 22 contestants stood in solidarity and delivered increasingly shocking facts while audience members applauded.

This campaign was endorsed by the TV network Frecuencia Latina. It was the network’s idea to deliver statistics from the Ministry of Women and Vulnerable Population (MWVP). Frecuencia Latina’s Content and Strategy Manager, Luciana Olivares, said it was obvious the country needed a cry against violence on women.

The Miss Peru pageant organizer, Jessica Newton, also delivered a strong call to action.

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

The pageant’s presentation of these facts ignited a social media outcry with #PeruPaísdeVioladores (#PeruCountryofViolators) and #MisMedidasSon (#mymeasurementsare).

According to Reuters, Lima – with a population of 10 million – ranked as the fifth riskiest city for women. On a scale of 1-19, Lima scored a 10 in the protection they receive from sexual violence. Reuters drew this data from a survey of 20 experts in 19 countries, who focus on women’s issues, conducted between June 1st and July 28th, 2017.

According to the UN Women Global Database on Violence Against Women, Peru has a gender inequality index rank of 86 and a global gender gap index rank of 80. About 36 percent of violence is lifetime physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence and 19 percent is child marriage violence.

According to the Council on Hemispheric Affairs (COHA), over 50,000 Peruvians marched in Lima on August 13th, 2016 as part of the #NiUnaMenos (Not One Less) protest, which targeted the habitual violence many women face. Journalists, activists, and artists first developed Ni Una Menos – a group that combats sexual violence – in 2015.  

The COHA further states that Peru holds a long history of gender-based violence. For instance, Alberto Fujimori sterilized thousands of women to prevent overpopulation and poverty, an incident which still haunts women in Peru today.

In a December 2015 interview with BBC News, Sabina Huillca described how a doctor told her she should visit a health clinic in Izuchaca in 1996 so she could give birth. However, a nurse laid her on a stretcher, then tied her hands and feet. After this, the clinic anesthetized her and the nightmare unfolded.

“When I woke up, the doctor was stitching my stomach. I started screaming, I knew I had been sterilised,” Huillca said.

The Human Rights Watch reports that more than 700 women were killed in femicides between 2009 and 2015. In 2011, Peru finally created legislation that deemed femicide a crime.

“[F]emicide is incorporated into the criminal code and carries a minimum sentence of 15 years’ imprisonment for those convicted of killing a woman who is an immediate relative, spouse, or partner,” the law states, according to Country Reports 2013.  

The MWVP also recently approved the National Plan on Gender-Based Violence 2016-2021, which also led to the creation of a Gender Justice Office. Regional and local governments must adjust their policies and standards in accordance with the plan.

Even though violence in Peru still continues, the bold actions of these Miss Peru pageant contestants drew attention from people all around the world to a prevalent problem. Thanks to this increased intention, people can directly help the country and bring even more attention to the issue of femicide.

Featured Image by Art DiNo on Flickr

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