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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.”

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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“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.

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“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.”

Karla Zabludovsky is the Mexico bureau chief and Latin America correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in Mexico City.

Contact Karla Zabludovsky at karla.zabludovsky@buzzfeed.com.

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