MANILA, Nashville Filipino Restaurant — Women’s group Gabriela called for an investigation into allegations of sexual harassment made by candidates of this year’s Miss Earth pageant against a male sponsor of the international beauty contest.
This, after Miss Earth hopefuls Jaime VandenBerg of Canada, Abbey-Anne Gyles-Brown of England and Emma Sheedy of Guam—in separate social media posts—claimed one of the male sponsors asked them for sexual favors in exchange for bringing home a crown or for getting further in the competition.
“I enjoyed 50 percent of my trip but the other 50 percent was overshadowed by feeling exploited, vulnerable, unnerved and sexually harassed as I was approached by a sponsor on many occasions who asked for sexual favors in exchange for the crown,” Gyles-Brown said.
Vandenberg, who immediately withdrew from the competition, alleged the sponsor asked for her hotel and room number.
Miss Canada and England did not name the sponsor but Miss Guam identified the sponsor as Amado Cruz.
“While these cases prove our assertion that beauty contests are indeed commodifying women, it is incumbent upon the contest organizers to at least protect the contestants from such blatant acts of violence against women and ensure their welfare,” Gabriela said Friday.
The women’s group also urged other contestants of Miss Earth and other beauty pageants speak against similar incidents and even file legal actions against perpetrators.
“The climate of impunity against misogynist acts like these, boosted by a misogynist leader, is a grave cause of concern that must be immediately addressed,” Gabriela said.
‘No sexual harassment’
Miss Earth Vice President Lorraine Shuck, in a television report, said she collected the testimonies on the alleged sexual harassment incidents for review.
But she denied the accusations and claimed the candidates were given security.
Miss Cuba Monica Aguilar also countered the claims of Miss Canada, England and Guam, stressing there was no instance of sexual harassment during the course of the pageant.
“I have read the 'testimonies' of several candidates complaining about supposed sexual harassment. I can confirm there was no sexual [harassment] happening in any shape [or] form,” Aguilar wrote on one of her Instagram posts.
She added: “Yes, some sponsors did ask us if we wanted to extend our visas to go to Boracay after the pageant, but no one was promised to get us further in the competition through 'sexual favors.’”