Women accuse Miss Universe Indonesia pageant of sexual harassment

09 Aug 2023 01:20am
Picture for illustrative purposes - FILE PIX
Picture for illustrative purposes - FILE PIX

JAKARTA, INDONESIA - More than half a dozen women competing in the Miss Universe Indonesia beauty pageant have reported organisers to police over allegations of sexual harassment, their lawyer said Tuesday.

The complaint came after the seven finalists in the contest, held in the capital Jakarta from July 29 to August 3, were unexpectedly asked to strip for a supposed body check two days before the pageant's crowning ceremony.

Officials from the licence holder of Miss Universe in Indonesia, PT Capella Swastika Karya, insisted they had "to examine any scars, cellulite or tattoos on their bodies", the contestants' lawyer Mellisa Anggraini told AFP.

"The finalists were not aware that they would be subjected to such a procedure, as it was originally planned to be a fitting," Anggraini told AFP.

She said all 30 finalists in the pageant were subjected to the unexpected body check, and five of them had their pictures taken.

The number of contestants coming forward with complaints could rise, she said, as more finalists have given her the authority to report the incidents.

Jakarta police spokesman Trunoyudo Wisnu Andiko told reporters on Tuesday that a police report had been filed by the contestants.

Police launched a probe into the complaint using the report as "the basis for our further investigation", he said.

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Poppy Capella, national director of Miss Universe Indonesia, did not confirm or deny the allegations in an Instagram post, but expressed gratitude to those who had shared "their views, feelings and perspectives with us" over the incident.

"Your comments are not mere words: they are a potent force," she wrote.

Miss Universe's global organisation did not respond to an emailed request for comment.

Broadcaster Kompas TV showed the women holding a press conference about the allegations, hiding their identities as they spoke.

The competition was held to choose Indonesia's representative at this year's Miss Universe contest, which was founded in the 1950s.- AFP

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