Rwanda has suspended the Miss Rwanda competitions until further notice as investigations into alleged cases of sexual abuse in the pageantry continue.
This follows the recent arrest of Dieudone Ishimwe popularly known as Prince Kid, the chief executive of Rwanda Inspiration Backup — the organizer of Miss Rwanda, by the Rwanda Investigations Bureau (RIB) for alleged sexual exploitation of contestants.
“The Ministry of Youth and Culture has suspended Miss Rwanda competitions pending the outcome of ongoing investigations,” reads a statement from the ministry published May 9.
The scandal came to light after a victim, the reigning Miss Rwanda, Nshuti Divine Muheto, recently spoke out. The RIB has also arrested Elsa Iradukunda, the Miss Rwanda 2017 winner for allegedly using forged documents in attempts to obstruct the investigation.
It appears that since Ishimwe was detained, Ms Iradukunda has been moving from one witness to another, making them sign these documents and having a private notary stamp them, binding them from testifying in court.
Some of the girls claimed that Ishimwe sexually exploited them at different times while promising each of them winning the beauty crown.
Widening the net
It is said that more arrests could follow with more many people implicated, as the authorities dismantle and bring to book those involved in what has been called a sex ring built around sexually exploiting young girls who have been competing in the beauty pageant over the years.
Shortly before Ishimwe’s arrest, Meghan Nimwiza, the Miss Rwanda 2019 quit her job as director of communication at Miss Rwanda organization, some sources say was connected to the sexual abuse allegations that rocked the pageantry shortly after.
During the course of the investigations, beginning 2019, a number of former Miss Rwanda contestants as well as other people affiliated to the pageantry have been approached to give their version of the alleged abuse.