So I’ll admit my prejudices against beauty pageants make me perhaps a less than impartial commentator on the latest events reported on this year’s Miss Rural Zimbabwe Pageant. I want the blasted things abolished, not done better. But if you have to have a beauty pageant surely the very least you can do is protect the contestants from harm and look after them whilst they are in your care?
There are allegations of neglect, impoverishment, sexual abuse and harassment of the contestants by businessmen, high ranking politicians and diplomats (not that the professional occupations of the perpetrators really matter though – I don’t care if you’re a teacher or a vendor or an MP or a villager. Abuse is abuse and it’s inexcusable), with two women ending up seeking shelter with the Girl Child Network. Contestants were also reportedly left stranded at the pageant in Masvingo when organisers did not provide them with transport money to get back home.
The pageant has been wracked with controversy in the past. The emotional, psychological and physical abuse of contestants has been documented for years. Maybe it’s high time it’s disbanded altogether.