In malaysiakini today, the article on The ugly side of a beauty pageant tells of the exploitation of contestants who were allegedly treated like slaves and made to work like robots. They were not even provided proper food and accommodation.
One of the contestants claimed (and collaborated by two others) that the organisers made all the contestants work for 16 hours a day without payment throughout their three-week stay.
She averred: “The organisers got funding from different sponsors who want their products to be advertised by the contestants.
“So they get all these pretty young girls from all over the world who are so desperate to make it big in the modelling world and who are willing to do anything to get one of the titles, to advertise these products.”
A former beauty contestant told malaysiakini that 'sexual innuendos, insinuations and harassment' are common in such pageants.
She revealed: “These complaints rarely come out. I don’t know why. Maybe we have become used to this. As I see it, this business is just like a flesh trade. We are used in various ways, all in the name of (appreciating) beauty. In reality we are just made-up glamour dolls …”
Well, it’s not just contestants of beauty pageants who have been sexually harassed. In various organisations and government departments women have been and probably are still sexually harassed, with a few cases going on to rape.
Unfortunately, very few of these abuses have been reported. In Malaysia there is a an unfair social stigma attached to women who had been abused, as if they were the culprits rather than the victims.
Our terrible male macho ‘bocor’ and ‘gatal’ mentality believes that the women must have been the provocateur, the Delilah, the temptress to entice the poor innocent men into aroused attacks.
I have heard horror stories from my uncles and their friends who served in the Armed Services, of such incidents where sexual harassments and abuses were perpetrated on female members.
Even the Fourth Estate has its share of such cowards, people in senior positions who preyed on junior female staff members.
The elements are usually the same, namely, an unscrupulous predatory senior male staff member, a (usually new) junior female staff member, opportunity for the bastard, fear of dismissal by the victim or embarrassment at the likely social stigma or that no one would believe her (or want to believe her), and the worst, an apathetic attitude by those other staff members who know what had happened or even what's happening, but pretend not to, minding their own business to protect their own career.
The triple threats of social stigma, dismissal, or organizational ostracism (putting an end to career progression) have allowed those bastards to get away with all sorts of unmitigated sexual abuses or worse, even rape.
Some men (of a certain ilk) are more prone to abusing women sexually, thinking in their perverted minds that her smile had been an invitation for unrestrained rubba rubba, and even to take it far beyond.
And mind you, these are educated men in high position. The sad irony is that women are probably more likely to be safer with far more honourable hawkers, clerks or labourers.