The new Miss Peru 2017, Romina Lozano, at the Municipal Theatre of Lima. Contestants turned the Miss Peru pageant into a protest. Picture: AFP/Latina Television

Lima - Peru's newly elected national beauty queen has pledged to act as a mouthpiece for female victims of sexual violence, after the contest turned into a platform to denounce such crimes.

"I took the crown to help women who have no voice, now I am their voice. We must not allow ourselves to be defeated for anything," Romina Lozano, 20, told the online version of the daily El Comercio.

The usually little-noticed Miss Peru contest surprised television viewers on Sunday, when the 23 participants recited data on gender violence and abuse, instead of the usual announcements of their bust, waist and hip size.

"My measures are that a girl dies every 10 minutes for sexual exploitation" in Peru, "300 women have been killed so far this year," "2,002 women are reported to have been killed in the past nine years," "more than 70 per cent of Peruvian women have been harassed on the street," were some of the comments.

The organisers of the beauty contest backed the participants by displaying news material on prominent cases of sexual violence.

Lozano herself said she had been sexually harassed by criminals on the street.

The initiative was welcomed by social media users, though some complained that the beauty contest itself was a sexist event.

"We wanted to show the great the problem that we have and that, I hope, we can eliminate some day," Lozano told El Comercio.