Maoists declare war on beauty pageants in Nepal
Apr 7, 2007 - 10:04:03 AM

Kathmandu, April 7 - Nepal's oldest and most popular beauty pageant faces its acid test Saturday with Maoists announcing a mass demonstration in front of the venue in Kathmandu in a bid to stop it.

The Miss Nepal beauty contest, whose three winners get to participate in the Miss World, Miss Earth and Miss Asia-Pacific pageants, is being opposed by the women's wing of the Maoists on the ground that it 'degrades women and uses them as a commodity to boost the sale of products by multinational companies'.

'Eight progressive and feminist organisations will join us Saturday in the mass demonstration in front of the Birendra International Convention Centre in Kathmandu where the Miss Nepal show is to be held,' Jayapuri Gharti, newly nominated Maoist MP and chief of the women's wing, told IANS.

'We are also calling for an end to all other beauty pageants and asking the media to stop reporting on such contests.'

The announcement comes as a blow for Dabur Nepal, Dabur India's wholly owned subsidiary, that is the main sponsor of the event, as well as its organiser, event management company The Hidden Treasure and the 19 finalists, who had been working hard for the grand finale.

Dabur Nepal has signed a contract with state-run Nepal Television channel that has been given the rights to broadcast the show live.

Though the Maoist women pressured Information and Communications Minister Krishna Bahadur Mahara, who is also from the same party, to cancel the deal, the minister, while expressing support for the fight, has not done it in view of the financial loss it would cause NTV.

The Hidden Treasure has warned it would sue NTV if it violated the contract.

Subarna Chhetri of The Hidden Treasure rejects the Maoist allegation that the pageant degrades women and forces them to strip.

Unlike its counterparts in other parts of the world, including neighbours India and communist China, Miss Nepal does not have a swimsuit round.

Nepal's fashion and entertainment industry is watching the developments keenly, taking the Miss Nepal confrontation as a test case.

Another Indian venture in Nepal, Nepal Lever, hosts the country's most prestigious fashion show providing a platform to Nepali designers and models.If Miss Nepal is stopped, it too would go the same way, followed by dozens of other beauty shows and catwalk events.

The Miss Nepal contest has inspired an endless series of pageants. There are now contests in different localities, educational institutions and even communities.

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