LAS VEGAS — New Miss Universe Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters didn't shy away when asked to comment on sexual harassment just after being crowned Sunday night.
"If women take hands and stand together, we are unbreakable," the 22-year-old South African said, "and we can say no to the things that are wrong in the workplace, at home or wherever you might go."
In the U.S., dozens of politicians, Hollywood executives and actors, and media personalities are facing accusations of sexual misconduct, sparked by a wave of allegations against movie mogul Harvey Weinstein. The 65-year-old producer denies all allegations of non-consensual sex but has apologized for causing "a lot of pain" with "the way I've behaved with colleagues in the past."
The topic arose during Sunday's competition when a fan-submitted question asked why it's important for men and women to work together to address the issue of sexual misconduct.
Miss Jamaica Davina Bennett said men and women should come together to make sure no form of abuse, including sexual harassment, is acceptable.
"Sexual harassment is a form of abuse, and no abuse should be tolerated whether in the workplace or in society," Bennett said.
Nel-Peters, who recently earned a business management degree, was crowned during the event at The AXIS theater at Planet Hollywood casino-resort on the Las Vegas Strip.
The runner-up was Miss Colombia Laura Gonzalez, while Bennett finished as the second runner-up.
Nel-Peters is from the South African coastal community of Sedgefield in the Western Cape province. She helped develop a program to train women in self-defense in various situations after she was robbed at gunpoint a month after she was crowned as Miss South Africa.
She also said she wants to champion other causes during her yearlong reign.
"HIV/AIDS is a very big problem in my country South Africa, so I hope to stand as an advocate for that," she said after the event.
Steve Harvey returned as the show's host despite botching the 2015 Miss Universe crowning. On Sunday, he poked fun at his mistake throughout the night. Three days after people in the U.S. celebrated Thanksgiving, Harvey told the audience he is "grateful for the Oscars," referring to the best-picture flub at this year's Academy Awards.
Nel-Peters earned a yearlong salary and a luxury apartment in New York City for the duration of her reign as well as more prizes.
Ninety-two women from around the world participated in the decades-old competition. This year's edition had the most contestants ever, including the first representatives in its history of Cambodia, Laos and Nepal.