Miss Algeria 2019 against racism and sexism

Khadidja Benhamou, whose skin is darker than most other candidates, has suffered many discriminatory comments since her election.

Khadidja Benhamou, Miss Algeria 2019. DR

"There is no difference between skin colors and do not judge a person until you know it." Crown shining on the head, Khadidja Benhamou goes around the TV sets and repeats the same message, smiling. Friday, January 4, the Algerian 26 years was elected Miss Algeria 2019. Barely broadcast on social networks, the first photographs of the winner, in long golden evening dress, earned him many insults racist.

Khadidja Benhamou comes from Adrar, a region in the south of the country. She has darker skin and more frizzy hair than most other beauty contestants. On Saturday, January 5, journalists denounce discriminatory comments. The buzz then wins the Algerian social networks, but this time, it is thousands of messages of solidarity that highlight the beauty of the young woman and the Africanity of the Algerian are published.

"Uninhibited racism"

"Some comments, which suggested putting the Miss in a washing machine to whiten her, were disgusting. But this is only the example of a racism uninhibited on the social networks of some Algerians, analysis Redha Menassel, journalist of the radio Alger chain 3. It is necessary that one arrives at that the Algerians accept the difference. "

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Monday, January 7, the organization of Miss Algeria publishes the official photos of the winner and deplores "the behavior and racist comments of several people following publications of degrading and retouched photos . " Khadidja Benhanmou is not the first woman to suffer racist criticism. "Insults and derogatory remarks about my skin color are regular ," says Amina Hamouine, 33, a black-skinned Algerian model. It happens in the street, as I walk with my parents, but also when the photos of my shootings are published. On the Internet, harassment is systematically related to my physique and my skin color . In 2016, a photo of her wearing a traditional Kabylie dress even leads to a surge of insults and a final decision: "Since then, I avoid reading the comments . "

The majority of comments after the election of Khadija Benhamou concerned the physique of the elected. "Being the subject of derogatory comments is the daily lot of beauty pageants," says 24-year-old Rym Amari. Elected Miss Algeria in 2013, she was reproached for having a beauty "too European" .

" Cyber ​​harassment "

Beyond the Miss elections, the presence of Algerian women on social networks exposes them particularly to harassment. Imène Shetea, 26, launched a YouTube channel in 2013. The young woman, veiled, presents makeup tutorials, tips to cover her hair and talks about her travels. "I received a lot of insults about my physique, my way of talking, the fact that I used the English language. The more my subscribers increased, the more insults and the more vulgar . "

She also mentions sexual harassment, "messages with pornographic content" sent by both men and women. She says she had "very little" support at the time. Today, she tries to raise awareness: "Cyberbullying and body shaming are taken lightly in our society, they are even standardized when it should not. "

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Yet, according to fashion professionals, the situation is improving. "When I started in 2004, people saw modeling as luxury prostitution," recalls Naim Soltani, general manager of the women's magazine Dzeriet . At the time, he systematically invited parents of models to photo shoots and parades to deconstruct the idea they have. In 2011, when he organized the Miss University election, the catalog presenting the candidates' photographs was diverted and the word "candidate" was replaced by "whore" . "Today, we publish pictures of models every month. And if the critics are very severe, it is now about clothing, " tempers Naim Soltani.

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Zahra Chenaoui (Algiers, correspondence)

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REF: https://www.lemonde.fr/afrique/article/2019/01/11/miss-algerie-2019-face-au-racisme-et-au-sexisme_5408007_3212.html