NOOSA - A week ago, media in Papua New Guinea and Australia reported that Lucy Maino, 25, Miss Papua New Guinea, had been stripped of her crown after posting a video of herself twerking on TikTok.
The video had been shared on numerous social media platforms whereupon thousands of people verbally attacked Ms Maino.
She was viciously criticised and accused of not acting as a ‘role model’ for dancing in that way.
Then the mainstream media claimed that Ms Maino had been “released” from her duties by the Miss Pacific Islands Pageant PNG.
East Sepik governor Allan Bird, who is also co-chair of the Coalition of Parliamentarians against Gender-Based Violence, denounced the online harassment of Ms Maino.
“What kind of society condemns the torture and killing of women yet get upset when a young woman does a dance video?” he asked on social media.
Meanwhile Ms Maino’s supporters were rallying, with many people responding the social media pile-on showed a deep-seated culture of misogyny in PNG.
According to the Miss Pacific Islands-PNG Pageant Committee, the media reports were wrong.
Now, Ms Maino has spoken, saying it was not the case that the Miss PNG title was taken from her.
“Instead, in agreement with the pageant committee, I completed my service as Miss PNG,” she has written in a media statement.
“The opportunity to represent PNG on this unique platform gave me a great perspective on the visibility and value of the pageant.
“My interactions with many young women, and my own recent public adversities, have given me a fresh perspective on the struggles our women face to simply be their authentic selves,” she said.
“I am someone who grows stronger with adversity but my heart goes out to those who have faced similar experiences without the kind of support I have received and who fail to see the ignorance for what it is.
“This experience inspired me to use my voice for those who have no voice and to stand strong against those who desire to tear down and destroy young women.”
Ms Maino said the people of PNG should grow to be more accepting of one another.
“We should be kinder to one another and to learn to appreciate our individuality and diversity which is one of the many things that makes PNG unique.
“Unfortunately, my recent adversities serves as a sad reminder of how far we have to go as a country.
“While I endured public abuse and harassment online, thousands of women around the country and the world are being subjected to daily physical and psychological abuse,” she said.
“Quite often they are silent, in constant fear of further abuse and backlash.
“These women, and sometimes men, are sadly not as privileged as me.
“I decided I have to be a voice for women and men like these who need all of us to take a stand on their behalf.
“I have immense gratitude for those who are working to make PNG a land of opportunity for all and I’m committed to continue to contribute where I can.”
Papua New Guinea needs more people like Lucy Maino, and less men who rush to judgment on a woman in a dance video.