Miss Greece now Miss World, despite pageant protests
November 23, 1996
Web posted at: 4:30 p.m. EST (2110 GMT)
BANGALORE, India (CNN) -- Greece's Irene Skilva was crowned
Miss World 1996 Saturday in an elaborate ceremony that
contrasted sharply with the scene outside the stadium, where
anti-pageant protesters pelted police with rocks and militant
women threatened to set themselves on fire. (1M/28 sec. QuickTime movie)
Skilva, an 18-year-old model, received the silver tiara from
1995 winner Jacqueline Aguilera Marcano of Venezuela at the
conclusion of a two-hour show that was broadcast to millions
around the world.
Miss Colombia, Carolina Arango, was the first runner-up,
while Miss Brazil Anuska Prado placed third. About 88
contestants participated in the event.
Earlier Saturday, about 1,000 demonstrators shouted "Go home,
Miss World!" and tried to block roads leading to the
Bangalore cricket stadium where the pageant took place.
Police swung bamboo canes, fired rubber bullets and launched
tear gas at the protesters.
The protesters said the pageant treats women as objects and
benefits only plastic surgeons and cosmetics manufacturers.
Organizers contend it will help boost tourism and encourage
international investment in India.
Police accused of brutality
At least 1,000 people were detained and another 50 were
injured, police said. They also said the leader of a group of
women who had threatened to set themselves on fire in the
stadium remained at large.
Protesters later demanded a judicial investigation into what
they claimed was police brutality.
Saturday's demonstrations followed weeks of protests against
the pageant. A dozen groups ranging from right-wing political
parties to Communists have marched, filed court challenges,
blocked roads and burned effigies. One student in a nearby
town committed suicide by setting himself on fire as he
shouted anti-pageant slogans.
Responding to a question from the judges during one segment
of the show, Miss Greece said today's society calls for a
"She can be wife, she can be mother, she can be career
woman," Skilva said, speaking in English. "And I'm sure
you'll agree with me that she can make it very well in all
Light rain fell all day but let up shortly before the show
opened with a traditional Indian blowing of conch shells.
On stage were hundreds of performers, many in shimmering blue
skirts. In deference to Indian mores, the contestants wore
long transparent skirts over their swimsuits. Women in ruby
red veils trimmed with gold danced with men wearing turbans
and brandishing swords.
Lumbering elephants bedecked with glittering stones later
entered the set, which resembled the ruins of the 14th
century Hindu temple complex of nearby Hampi.
The 88 contestants introduced themselves in brief video clips
before the lineup was reduced to 10 semifinalists.
Large sections of the stadium were vacant as people --
deterred by high ticket prices and the possibility of
violence -- opted to stay away. The finals were televised in
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.
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