A beauty pageant, slated to be held in Vishakhapatnam on 11 November, was cancelled following fierce protests from women's groups in the city. It was not the first time that the 'Miss Vizag' contest was being held in the city, however, this was the first time that it was being promoted with the 'Save the Girl Child' tagline.
On 14 October, Andhra HRD minister Ganta Srinivasa Rao released the poster of the contest in a ceremonial launch, leading to a spate of protests.
Newsminute reports: "Activists of multiple women's groups such as the All India Democratic Womens Association (AIDWA), the Progressive Women's Organisation (PWO), the AP Mahila Samakya and the Chaitanya Mahila Sangam (CMS) took out a protest rally."
The protesters have contended that it was hypocritical to associate a beauty pageant with the 'Save the Girl Child' issue. They pointed out that an exercise which according to them revolved around blatantly objectifying a woman's body is against the spirit of 'Save the Girl Child'.
RN Madhavi, AIDWA Vishakapatnam Secretary told Newsminute, "In the name of the 'Save the girl child' campaign, they (the government) want to entertain multinational companies that want to make money out of women's bodies."
The Hans India reports that the organises temporarily cancelled the auditions and postponed the event after women's rights activists turned up in front of the hotel where auditions were supposed to be held and protested, shouting slogans. The women's groups also threatened that if the contest is not scrapped, they will organise a demonstration in front of the HRD minister's house.
The website 'Hans India' demanded that the organisers 'apologise' to women and chided the government for organising a 'bikini festival' in the garb of organising a 'beach festival' to promote tourism, making swimsuits sound like some sort of an aberration.
According to its Facebook page, the event is in its 19th year in Vizag and its conceptualised by Creative Plus Entertainment Network.
The page also has pictures of former contests and winners. It is not clear if the organisers have faced similar protests in the past or if the government had endorsed it previously as well.