a blog with cultural bulimia.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Beauty Behind Bars.

 Brazil Prisons Crown
Miss Penitentiary

Slide Show

"The inmates competed in categories that, aside from the headlining 'beauty' classification, included a simpatia, or congeniality competition, plus an essay and poetry contest on the theme of 'rewriting the future.' Though the prizes were modest - the winner in each category won 350 reals, or just over $150 - the inmates were motivated by the colorful change to their drab routine and the chance to take part in an event unlikely for them on the outside.'I was part of another world before I came here,' said Márcia Santana Santos, a 30-year-old serving a sentence for armed robbery who was named Miss Congeniality. 'I never could have done something like this.'" (...)

"Some law-and-order advocates were offended by the contest. "What's next?" asked Jorge Damus, founder of the Movement for the Resistance of Crime, in São Paulo. "Are they going to pay them to pose nude? This is state-sponsored glorification of people who are supposed to be getting punished."

Participants say such attitudes do little to help them recover.

"We're not animals that you put in a cage and just forget about," said Ms. Santos, Miss Congeniality, glitter shining from the barbs of her recently spiked hair. "Society should seek to help us take advantage of our talents and our potential."" New York Times