AP PHOTOS: Female prisoners in Rio compete in beauty contest

Miss Talavera Bruce 2017 Mayana Rosa Alves waits to participate in the 13th annual beauty contest at the Talavera Bruce penitentiary in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2018. Jail authorities say they organize the contests to encourage self-esteem, fight idleness and promote integration among women prisoners. (AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo)

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — After hours of putting on makeup and getting their dresses just right, female prisoners paraded in front of group of judges Tuesday.

At stake? The crown of Miss Talavera Bruce, an annual beauty pageant named after the women’s prison in western Rio.

For the prisoners, the contest is a time to enjoy dressing up, temporarily forget life behind bars and enjoy visiting family, who are allowed to come.

Raquel Rodrigues, a 28-year-old convicted of drug trafficking and robbery, said she was thrilled to see her 5-year-old daughter.

“When I was imprisoned, my daughter was only 9 months old,” she said.

Prisons in Latin America’s largest nation are notoriously overcrowded and often lack basic sanitation. On Tuesday, a strong sewage smell was present.

Authorities say they organize the pageant, which attracts a lot of local media attention, to help the prisoners with their self-esteem and promote integration between them.

“Bringing activities here is a way to re-socialize (the women), to make them think about change,” said Ana Cristina Faulharber, coordinator of female and LGBT prisons in Rio de Janeiro.

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