13 June 2013

The first Miss Belarus and the current Mrs. Belarus Svetlana Kuznetsova will speak out against violence against women at the Mrs. Universe 2013 beauty pageant.

svetlana kuznetsova 00Svetlana Kuznetsova: Women aged 25-45 who have actualized their professional interests, started families and become mothers, achieved independence on their own and are ready to do good for the society can compete for the Mrs. Universe title. Svetlana meets all criteria: the titleholder of national and international beauty contests, she is a wife and a mother of two children, one of the best teachers of Moscow where she moved to from Belarus after marriage. Her way to world’s catwalks started 15 years ago.

SK: In 1998 I entered the National Beauty School. The major exam was Miss Belarus contest which I won.

After that Svetlana Kuznetsova became the 1st runner-up at the Miss CIS contest in 1999 in Moscow, the finalist of Miss Europe in Beirut, and a participant of Miss World 2000 contest in London. Then I decided to look at the catwalk from a professional angle and received another degree by studying communication in fashion industry. My interests changed after the birth of the child:

SK: I am very active and could not stay home long – I wanted back to work. To do that I needed a working schedule, which would let me spend time with my family and go out. My first education – in mathematics - came in handy and I began working as a mathematics teacher.

Next Svetlana’s victory was not on the catwalk but at the gymnasium: according to the results of the Teacher of the Year contest in 2010 Kuznetsova was one of the ten best teachers in Moscow and was awarded a governmental medal for meritorious service to Russian education.

Today Miss and Mrs. Belarus is bringing up two sons – an eight-year-old Andrei and a two-year-old Nikita. She continues teaching mathematics at a Moscow gymnasium and at the same time she works in the fashion industry and is a judge at beauty pageants. As a person with a proactive attitude she joined the struggle against domestic violence. It is the most terrible and, alas, most widespread type of violence against women that Svetlana Kuznetsova will speak of at the Mrs. Universe contest.
This is a special contest. Its motto is “No to Violence, and every year another aspect of this sensitive topic is covered:  earlier contestants joined against domestic violence against women and children, and against human trafficking. This year each of the contestants will present a report on how her country is combating violence. Svetlana Kuznetsova cannot control her emotions when speaking about it:

SK: Until recently it was considered embarrassing in our society to speak about domestic violence.  That is why many people keep it to themselves, they are afraid of disapproval of their neighbours and acquaintances. But this leads nowhere. I understand that all phenomena are rooted in some historical and cultural contexts. Let us take our grandmothers: there was a war, many men died, they did not come back from the battlefield. There was some kind of competition between women. That is why many women tolerated battery and humiliation and thought: “So what, other women do not have any men at all. But times change while women continue to suffer and keep back their tears.

Another aspect of the problem is that when violence happens few people know what to do and how they can protect themselves, says Svetlana. That is why it is necessary to raise awareness of this issue:

SK: I believe that famous people must speak about the problem of domestic violence and the ways of addressing it. Even more so that today there are services and organizations in the country where one could turn to. One should publish the hotline number for domestic violence victims 8-801-100-8-801 in the mass media as often as possible, speak about “crisis rooms of the territorial centres for social protection, which provide support to the survivors. I am sure this will empower those who find themselves in a difficult situation in life.

The representative of Belarus at the Mrs. Universe 2013 pageant says that violence against women, especially domestic violence is a “cruel reality, which must not be suppressed, and she calls on people to speak about this problem and try to solve it.  “You can change everything! this is the slogan Svetlana Kuznetsova will take to the contest, which will not only provide the catwalk for beauty queens but also a ground for discussing one of the most urgent issues for all countries of the world.

You can get an anonymous consultation of a psychologist and a lawyer by calling a free hotline for domestic violence survivors at 8-801-100-8-801.