Outrage over Colombian children's pageant Little Miss Thong
Should eight-year-old girls be parading around, waiting to be judged, in skimpy swimwear?
A children's beauty pageant in Colombia called Little Miss Thong has sparked outrage online for precisely this reason.
The contest is part of the annual Festival del Rio Suarez and involves young girls competing in bikinis.
And local officials are defending the pageant, which is held in the northeastern town of Barbosa.
They have denied that it is a pathway to child prostitution.
"We would never induce girls to make inappropriate or vulgar acts," insisted Barbosa mayor Rocio Galeano on a local radio station.
She continued: "We are simply promoting the defence of the body, of body care. It is giving the children the importance they deserve."
The competition has "always had the support and permission of parents," said Galeano.
But some disagreed.
The director of Colombia's family welfare institute, Cristina Plazas, said: "The Little Miss Thong competition is shameful and totally violates the rights of the girls! How horrible and irresponsible of the parents."
Plazas said she is consulting with lawyers on "taking appropriate action" against the event organisers, as well as against sponsors and parents.
She also suggested bringing the issue to the attorney general’s office, which is tasked with overseeing public employees in Colombia, to punish authorities who encouraged this “abnormal” event.
Beauty contests are popular in Colombia, where pageant queens often compete at high levels in international competitions like Miss Universe and Miss World, as well as in smaller local events.