PHNOM PENH, Cambodia – The Cambodian government said Monday it will not allow a "Miss Landmine" beauty pageant to take place later this week, calling it an insult to the disabled.
"The land mine beauty contest would make a mockery of Cambodia's land mine victims," said government spokesman Khieu Khanarith. "The government does not support this contest."
The Ministry of Social Affairs sent a letter to the pageant's organizers Friday informing them of the ban and saying the contest would damage "the dignity and honor of our disabled."
The contest was scheduled to be held this Friday. The Ministry of Social Affairs was supposed to be one of the pageant's partners, along with the Ministry of Women's Affairs and other groups, according to the pageant's Web site.
The Miss Landmine site says the pageant's goal is to empower its participants and other disabled people and raise awareness about the dangers of land mines.
The Web site shows photos of the 20 Cambodian contestants, all in crowns and dresses, with missing limbs. They range in age from 18 to 48.
Organizer Morten Traavik said he was "disappointed" with the government's decision but would still hold the contest over the Internet and announce the winner on Dec. 31.
"I am extremely disappointed with the government's decision," Traavik said. "I have tried to find a solution but we cannot reach an agreement."
Traavik launched the first Miss Landmine pageant in Angola in 2007.
An estimated 4 million to 6 million land mines and other unexploded ordinance remain in Cambodia, a legacy from decades of civil war. Hundreds are killed or wounded every year.