Another beauty pageant winner has been stripped of her crown — and not by mistake.
Veronika Didusenko was crowned Miss Ukraine 2018 a few weeks ago, but was soon after disqualified from her role because organizers found out that she’s a divorced mom. Being a mother and having been married are both against pageant rules.
“In the 21st Century [the rules] are so discriminatory,” Didusenko told BBC. “They were written in 1951, 70 years ago, when even racial segregation was a norm.”
Journalists found out after her win that the model-turned-contestant had been divorced and is the mother of a 4-year-old son named Aleksandr.
“This is a very unfortunate story,” Viktoria Kiose, the executive director of Miss Ukraine, told RT. “She signed the contract, and agreed to its conditions. She flouted the rules and lied to us, so we disqualified her.”
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In a press conference last week, the Kiev-born model apologized to the organizing committee and pageant participants. “I want to apologize … because I didn’t mention the most important thing in my life — my little boy,” she said.
She also addressed the controversy in an Instagram post on Sept. 30, writing, “In 2018 this is simply not right. This discrimination on the grounds of motherhood must end. This indirect encouragement of abortion must end.”
Didusenko concluded the post, “Time to stand up for a women’s right not to be punished for being a mother. We must eliminate the last remaining rule which discriminates against women with children.”
Now, Didusenko says she is going to continue fighting for women who participate in these competitions and is willing to bring her concerns up to the organizers of the international Miss World pageant, which she would have qualified for had she maintained the title of Miss Ukraine 2018.
“I don’t agree with [the rules], and I’m going to fight against them,” she said in the press conference.
Before the Miss Ukraine competition, Didusenko had built a modeling career. She told BBC she never expected to win the competition.
“I did not expect to win and I did not have any intention to win,” she said. “I have a professional modeling career, I have a pretty big life. When it happened, I was so shocked.”