Hontiveros seeks inquiry into sexual harassment of Miss Earth bets
Unwelcome sexual advances have no place anywhere, especially in a pageant that seeks to empower women, Sen. Risa Hontiveros said on Monday.
Hontiveros, chair of the Senate committee on women, children, family relations and gender equality, has sought a Senate inquiry into the complaints of Miss Earth candidates as she deplored the reported harassment of three of the pageant candidates.
“Sexual harassment has no place anywhere, especially in a pageant that claims to uphold the value and power of women,” she said.
“At a time when women and girls are battered by rape jokes, sexual violence and sex-for- freedom cases, it is imperative that sexual harassment of any kind, shape or form be brought out into the open,” she added.
According to Hontiveros, both the harasser and the event organizer should be held responsible for the act a pageant sponsor allegedly committed against the beauty contestants.
“I am surprised that despite reports of sexual harassment, the sponsor was still allowed to see the candidates in succeeding events. This shows disregard for their welfare and a flippant attitude toward the handling of this case,” she said.
Miss Earth-Canada Jaime Yvonne Vandenberg, Miss Earth-England Abbey-Anne Gyles-Brown and Miss Earth-Guam Emma Mae Sheedy earlier complained about how they were treated by one of the sponsors, later identified by Sheedy as Amado Cruz.
Vandenberg had said that the sponsor, after getting her phone number without her consent, kept calling her to ask for her hotel and room number.
The sponsor, she said, also asked for sexual favors.
Vanderberg eventually withdrew from the contest.
Gyles-Brown also said she felt “exploited, vulnerable, unnerved and sexually harassed” after a sponsor approached her numerous times.
She said she and Vanderburg had told team managers about the matter but were only laughed at.
Sheedy said she was pulled aside several times by Cruz and invited to Boracay and to his house.
She also accused Cruz of insisting that she and “Latino women” dance for him.
Hontiveros said her proposed inquiry sought not just to uncover the truth but to help protect women from sexual harassment in the future.
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