A beauty pageant in which landmine victims were to compete to win a prosthetic limb has been cancelled after the Cambodian government said it was in bad taste, organizers said.
In the “Miss Landmine Cambodia” contest, competitors from around the country were due to appear in a photo exhibition opening in Phnom Penh, followed by an Internet voting campaign to select the best candidate.
“I’m not looking forward to breaking the news to the 20 candidates involved, as I know they will be very disappointed in the lack of support from Cambodian authorities,” Norwegian pageant director Morten Traavik told AFP.
The exhibition went down like a lead balloon with Cambodia’s Ministry of Social Affairs, which demanded the cancellation of the contest to protect “the honor and dignity of people with disabilities”.
However the contest, intended to raise awareness about landmines and empower the disabled, will continue with Internet voting at miss-landmine.org, Traavik said.
“The event as planned is cancelled...But the project moves squarely to Web site voting,” he said.
“I think it is regrettable that we were not able to show this project freely in Cambodia,” he added.
The first “Miss Landmine” contest was held in Angola last year, drawing protests from rights activists who viewed it as exploitative and racist.
Cambodia remains one of the world’s most heavily mined countries, along with Afghanistan and Angola.
Hundreds of people are killed or maimed every year by the millions of landmines and other unexploded ordnance still littering the countryside after decades of conflict. (AFP)
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