Latin America & Caribbean

Argentina town bans 'sexist' beauty competitions

Miss Argentina Josefina Herrero competes during The 54th Miss International Beauty Pageant 2014 at Grand Prince Hotel New Takanawa on November 11, 2014 in Tokyo, Japan.
Image caption Argentine women have a long history of competing in international beauty competitions

A town in Argentina has become the first in the country to ban beauty queen competitions.

The town council of Chivilcoy, in the Buenos Aires region, said the contests were sexist and encouraged violence against women.

It said they encouraged an obsession with physical beauty and illnesses like bulimia and anorexia.

In Latin America the beauty pageant often serves as a springboard for a career in television or entertainment.

A number of Latin America's television personalities have won major beauty competitions and with it, celebrity status and lucrative careers.

The council said that from now on Chivilcoy's festivities and anniversaries would be celebrated by recognising the achievements of young people.

They said the contests will be replaced with carnival mask competitions and prizes for volunteering.

Correspondents say a debate has been emerging for some time in Argentina about the validity of beauty competitions.

Mariano Anton of Argentina's anti-discrimination watchdog, the National Institute against Discrimination and Xenophobia, has called for the scrapping of beauty competitions in schools to prevent attacks on participants, Clarin newspaper reports.

He said his organisation had seen a large number of cases of violence against young participants in various provinces because "they were too beautiful".

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