The former Miss Ukraine 2018 is taking legal action against the Miss World pageant after she was stripped of her title last year for being a divorced mother.
Veronika Didusenko, 24, announced on Instagram that she’s “launched a legal challenge” against the competition with the goal of fighting for “justice” and hopefully amending Miss World’s entry restrictions.
“The reason I was not allowed to compete in Miss World after winning the title #MissUkraine is because I had been married and have a child,” she wrote. “Denying me on the chance of competing on those bases breaches those protections against discrimination.”
The U.K.-based Miss World bans contestants who have children or have been married — and Didusenko was disqualified because competition organizers said they learned that she had not disclosed on her application that she both had a son and had been married.
Didusenko argued in her Instagram post that her September 2018 removal — and the pageant’s entry policy — violates the U.K.’s Equality Act (2010), as it is discriminatory “on various grounds, namely marital status, and pregnancy and maternity.”
“I don’t want the crown back. I want to get the rules changed for wider society,” she wrote. “These rules are a systemic, widespread and international policy that results in discrimination on large scale across many countries.”
Didusenko is being represented by attorney Ravi Naik, who wrote in a statement on his website that the beauty queen said that the competition’s policies were “stuck in the dark ages” and needed to change.
Miss World issued a statement in response to Didusenko’s announcement, and claimed that her allegations arose from “incorrect statements” she made on her Miss Ukraine application.
The statement reiterated that because she gave “false information” on her application, she was disqualified as per the rules, and did not have the chance to participate in Miss World 2018.
“The rules under which Miss World operates are constantly under review,” the statement read. “The rules are set with the principal aim of finding a Miss World who is free and able to commit, often at short notice, to travel globally in support of the sick and disadvantaged which may be for long periods of time, often to areas devastated by natural disasters.”
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Didusenko — who apologized to the organizing committee and pageant participants at a press conference after the scandal broke — told the BBC that her goal was to amend the Miss World rules so that they reflected modern women’s ability to balance their careers and personal lives.
“Why should a woman be excluded from entering, just because she’s a mother?” she said. “It doesn’t make any sense. Being a mom doesn’t have any implication on my ability to be professional or be a successful model or do my job. So those rules didn’t make any sense to me.”