DOS Sopheap, an 18-year-old student from Battambang province, was crowned winner of a controversial beauty pageant for Cambodian land mine victims in an international online vote on Thursday.
Miss Landmine Cambodia 2009 organiser Morten Traavik had planned to stage the event in Cambodia earlier this year, but it was banned by a July 31 government decree, which also forbade the 20 contestants to leave their hometowns to participate
After returning home to Norway, Traavik posted images of the 20 women on the Miss Landmine Web site and held an online vote in which more than 2,300 voters from 30 countries participated. He hosted a function in the town of Kristiansand, Norway, on November 14 in which photos of the contestants were displayed for judges, an event Dos Sopheap also won.
As winner of both Miss Landmine competitions, Dos Sopheap is slated to receive $1,000 and a custom-made prosthetic limb worth US$15,000. Other contestants will receive cash prizes.
“Due to the Cambodian government’s unexpected and inexplicable ban on Miss Landmine Cambodia ... the prizes will be handed over at a date to be announced later and as soon as the government guarantees that the participants will suffer no negative consequences for accepting their prizes,” Traavik said in a statement on Thursday.
Dos Sopheap, who lost her leg in 1996 when she was 6 years old, said last month that participating in the pageant had been a wholly worthwhile experience.
“I was glad to participate in the contest because I want people to know that disabled women are not discouraged,” she said.