Selma the brave

28 June 2019 | Columns

This week, Miss Namibia 2019 Selma Kamanya bravely and boldly made shocking allegations of lack of support and abuse that have characterised her reign.

Kamanya bemoaned, among others, a lack of financial support, including during her preparations for the Miss Universe pageant. Since then, four other former Miss Namibia title-holders also came forward and shared similar experiences. In a New Era report, Miss Namibia 2016 Lizelle Esterhuisen also shed light on a body-shaming she allegedly experienced at the hands of the Miss Namibia organisers.

These revelations are startling for an event that presents itself as one that celebrates women and seeks to empower them. As the pageant gears up for its 2019 edition, we need to ask ourselves where we stand in light of these allegations. This is a question that should also be posed to corporate sponsors, the event's patron and other interested parties. Silence, in the face of abuse and exploitation, makes one complicit.

Around the world, women and girls are leading important conversations about creating a world where they can have their voices heard.

Selma's voice, which is calling for respect and the appropriate treatment of Miss Namibia winners as national ambassadors of this country, is also an urgent plea to have their dignity protected.

This call also rings true for treatment in the workplace, in lecture halls, in schools and in our communities.

Body-shaming has no place in our world today, but it thrives. Critics will argue that it is the role of the Miss Namibia organisation to make sure that winners remain in the required shape.

However, not celebrating all shapes and sizes, shouldn't have a place in our modern society.

Instructions and/or comments that plant the seed of shame and humiliation are abuse in themselves.

We are cognisant of the fact that the organisers have the right to defend themselves and that they cannot be seen as guilty on all counts, simply because allegations have been made.

However, the debates are happening fast and furiously, so let everyone be heard.