Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Beauty Pageants From Behind Bars

      In a country known for its beauty -- both natural and human -- it appears that even Brazil's convicted killers are easy on the eye.

A prison in Recife, a city in the state of Pernambuco, recently held its inaugural Miss Jail pageant to join a growing global list of contests for beauties behind bars.

"It's flattering that people think I am pretty," said the winner of Miss Jail 2011, 19-year-old convicted murderer Rebecca Rhaysa Suelen Guedesin.

Pictured: 'Miss Jail' contestants from the Brazilian state Pernambuco. 19-year-old Rebecca Rhaysa Suelen Guedesin (second from right) was voted Miss Jail in the Brazilian state Pernambuco. She's imprisoned in Recife prison since December 2010 for homicide (Europics/CEN)
Rebecca Rhaysa Suelen Guedesin, 19, second from right, was voted Miss Jail in the Brazilian state of Pernambuco. She's been imprisoned in Recife since December for homicide.
"I don't have a boyfriend at the moment," added Guedesin, who maintains her innocence even though she is serving a life sentence for her crime.

"I am just focused on getting out of here. I never killed anyone, so I hope to return to normal life one day soon."

Twelve contestants were judged for beauty, general knowledge and their good behavior record. First prize included about $1,000 in cash to be deposited in the winner's prison bank account.

"It was a real thrill to be cheered by the inmates and the guards," Guedesin said after her win. "Sadly the dress has to go now and it's back to prison routine."

Brazil's Ministry of Social Development and Human Rights organized the contest within a jail system more known for its ugly brutality.

In one recent reported case, a 15-year-old girl was held for a month in a cell with 20 adult men and subjected to rape and torture.

According to Brazil's Justice Ministry, 40 percent of female inmates are in prison for drug trafficking and 21 percent for theft.

Miss Jail is the latest in a growing trend. Prison beauty pageants have also been held in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro, as well as in Russia, Colombia and Lithuania.

The winner of Miss Spring, held in an all-women's Siberian jail known as UF 91/9, was awarded early release if she won that contest.

Contestants in the Miss Captivity pageant, held in a Lithuanian jail, were required to take part in swimsuit parades and model designer dresses and wedding gowns.

The Miss Prisoner contest in Rio de Janeiro's Talavera Bruce jail is part of an effort by the jail's administration to reinvent its notorious prison system.

"They used to have riots, but now we don't have more than isolated problems," said guard Andrea Carvalho.

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