Miss Guyana escapes ‘hostage’ situation in South Korea pageant
Miss Guyana, Aletha Shepherd, has claimed she was forced to flee an international pageant in South Korea after suffering sexual harassment, racism and being given no food or bed to sleep on.
Shepherd, 23, quit the Miss Asia Pacific World contest in South Korea after alleging she was inappropriately touched by sponsors and suffered racism from judges.
She told Kaieteur News that when she and a few other girls reported the corruption to the police they were stunned to see officials openly bribing local officers with cash.
The UK-based Guyanese last year represented Guyana at the Miss World pageant.
She kept a daily video diary of all events that took place at the South Korea pageant and posted these on YouTube under “Confessions of a Beauty Queen.”
There, she vents her anger over racism from the judges who awarded her Best National Costume – Africa Award.
Not only did they get Guyana’s continent wrong, but she felt it was racism towards her as she was the only black girl for the majority of the pageant, therefore they assumed she came from Africa.
She claims that on many occasions she and the other girls were provided with no food and were forced to sleep on the floor in appalling conditions.
Aletha claims that when she posed with sponsors they would “stick a hand somewhere inappropriate”, while some girls were even offered places in the competition in exchange for sex. The anger boiled over, she said, when a talent round was won by Miss Venezuela who had not even entered that section of the competition.
“I decided to leave because I had suffered racism, sexual harassment and injustice from the organisers who had broke the contract which we had all signed before arriving.
“When I tried to leave the pageant with two other girls they had diverted us to a deserted hotel near the airport in order to convince us to stay by offering us money.
“I then ran to the nearby airport where they followed us. They continued to restrain us from leaving the country by keeping our bags and keeping us hostage at the airport.
“We were lucky to escape as the airport police were called.”
Aletha’s performance throughout the pageant was commendable. She won every competition up to her departure and was leading contender for winning the pageant, having won ‘the lotus challenge, the sexy dance competition and best national costume.
After returning safely home, she has since heard that Miss Korea had won and it was later changed to Miss France as judging was wrong again.
Aletha claims that some girls were also locked in their hotel rooms after the organisers refused to pay $100,000 bill for their accommodation.
Most of the girls have now returned from the competition.
Aletha is now looking to launch legal action against the competition. She is continuing her pageant duties, however, and is currently in Albania for the Miss Globe competition.