11.08.2018

Miss Earth 2018 Candidates Allege Sexual Harassment


Miss Earth-Canada Jaime Yvonne Vandenberg, Miss Earth-England Abbey-Anne Gyles-Brown, and Miss Earth-Guam Emma Mae Sheedy


Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 8) — Three candidates of Miss Earth 2018 bravely came forward to reveal their experiences of sexual harassment involving a sponsor during the international beauty pageant, which was recently concluded in the Philippines.

Miss Earth Canada Jaime Yvonne Vandenberg, Miss Earth England Abbey-Anne Gyles-Brown, and Miss Earth Guam Emma Mae Sheedy all shared how excited they were to compete and to enjoy the Philippines, but it was ruined by a pageant sponsor's alleged sexual requests.
Vanderberg, who eventually withdrew from the competition, said the sponsor started harassing her on her second day in the country. She said the sponsor got her mobile number without her consent and kept calling her to ask for her hotel and room number.
But it didn't stop there. The candidate said the unnamed sponsor offered her competition mileage if she grants him sexual favors.
"He showed up to almost all of my events telling me he could take care of my needs and asked for sexual favours in exchange to get me further in the pageant. I was disgusted," Vandenberg wrote on her Instagram page on Wednesday.
 
Miss Earth England Abbey-Anne Gyles-Brown also attested to this.
"I enjoyed 50% of my trip but the other 50% was over shadowed by feeling exploited, vulnerable, unnerved & sexually harassed as I was approached by a sponsor on many occasions who asked for sexual favours in exchange for the crown," she wrote on Instagram.
All three candidates recalled their experience with the sponsor when they attended two sponsored events at the Manila Yacht Club.
Miss Earth Guam Emma Mae Sheedy said the Filipino sponsor, whom she identified as Amado Cruz, ensured that the team managers and security personnel were separated in another room during the event at the yacht club. She said he grabbed her bare backside during the National Costume Competition, but told her not to tell anyone about it.
 
Vandenberg said seven candidates left the event after they felt uncomfortable and unsafe in the sponsor's yacht. She added some candidates were even invited to go to the newly-rehabilitated Boracay.
"At an event at the Manila Yacht Club he took all of the delegates in my group to his yacht and had some girls take sultry photos. Again, I was disgusted. Later in the pageant we had another sponsor event at the Manila Yacht Club and he was telling girls he could take them to Boracay, as long as we didn't tell any one. A group of us left to sit out side as we did not feel comfortable. He followed us outside and was upset we were not dancing with him. The team mangers laughed and told us to be nice," she wrote.
Gyles-Brown recalled how she and the other women were harassed.
"It was not only myself and Canada who were approached on this night but other delegates who I believe are going to come forward and tell their side of the story... Myself and Jaime removed ourselves from this uncomfortable environment and sat on the bus away from further exploitation," she said.
CNN Philippines is trying to reach Cruz for comment.
Officials of the Manila Yacht Club, where the incident supposedly took place, said Cruz is not a member and could have just been sponsored by a friend who happens to be part of the club.

Allegations vs Miss Earth organizers

All three candidates believe Miss Earth 2018 organizers did not act on their complaints.
Vanderberg said that she was able to talk to Lorraine Schuck, the founder and executive vice president of the production that runs the pageant. She said it took weeks before the Carousel Productions addressed her concerns.
"I went through almost two weeks of sexual harassment before anything was done about it," she said.
Gyles-Brown said that when she mentioned the Manila Yacht Club incident to Miss Earth organizers, they only scoffed at her.
"Myself and Canada approached Team Managers to express our disgust only to be laughed at. Another official attendee of the night told me not to cry as I would ruin my makeup! There was no respect or compassion shown to myself or Jamie. I felt traumatised by this experience and had many sleepless nights," she said.
Gyles-Brown said she was told by Schuck that the sponsor would not be allowed near the candidates, but it did not happen.
"The said sponsor in fact show up at a preliminary event and also attended the Coronation night," she said.
Sheedy believes that more candidates over the years will come forward with their revelations against the said sponsor.
Another allegation from Vanderberg was that Miss Earth organizers confiscated her passport on the first day of competition.
"The organization had confiscated my passport on the first day and I felt like I couldn't leave. When the team managers went into my room and took things from my luggage without my permission, I had completely lost faith in the organization," she said.
Vandenberg also explained her decision to withdraw from the competition before the coronation night on November 3.
"I was so excited because I had been to the Philippines before and loved the country and the people; however, the experience with the pageant was not what I had expected. I left Miss Earth because I did not feel safe under their care," Vandenberg wrote.
Shuck said they will ban the alleged sponsor from the pageant's next events.
However, she questioned why the candidates aired their issues online even if they have already talked about it. 
"Medyo na-blown out of proportion... Naiba. So ewan ko ba kung bakit umabot to sa social media, eh natapos na kami noong October 14 pa. So I really do not understand. So if they're saying na tuloy-tuloy pa din yung harassement na naramdaman nila, bakit hindi nila sinasabi sa team manager at sa police," she told CNN Philippines on Thursday. 
Source: CNN Philippines, 11/9/2018

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