Beauty prize for Miss Afghanistan

MANILA, Philippines -- The first Afghan woman in three decades to take part in a beauty pageant has won Miss Earth's "beauty for a cause" award.

Miss Afghanistan Vida Samadzai took home the inaugural prize at the event in Manila even though she failed to make it to the contest's semifinals. Miss Honduras Dania Prince was crowned Miss Earth.

Samadzai, 23, won her award for "symbolizing the newfound confidence, courage and spirit of today's women" and for "representing the victory of women's rights and various social, personal and religious struggles," according to The Associated Press.

But her achievement is unlikely to subdue much of the storm her parading in a bikini caused in her native Afghanistan.

Samadzai -- who left Afghanistan in 1996 to study in the United States -- was condemned for treading the catwalk in a red bikini and may even face prosecution if she returns home.

A senior Afghan justice official said Samadzai had betrayed Afghanistan's Muslim culture and could have even broken the law.

"I hope that this lady regrets her actions," Manawi told The Associated Press, adding that Samadzai may be investigated but declining to say what charges or penalties she could face.

Samadzai's parade in a red bikini is certainly a radical departure from the traditional image of Afghan women.

Under the hardline Taliban -- which ruled Afghanistan from 1995 to 2001 -- women were required to wear head to toe burquas when appearing in public.

Though harsh dress codes have eased since the Taliban's fall, the Koran calls for both Muslim women and men to dress modestly in public.

For women, this usually means wearing loose fitting clothes that conceal form and completely cover the body except for her hands and face.

Samadzai has said that though she felt uncomfortable wearing the bikini, she wore the skimpy attire to qualify for the contest and raise awareness of the plight of women and children in her homeland.

She said she was "appointed" as a contestant by people aware of her work as a volunteer fundraiser and as a founder of an Afghan women's rights organization.

"It gives me a chance to speak up and send my voice out there and let people know that the Afghans are in great need of help," she said, according to The Associated Press.


Bron : CNN Asia

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