Allegations of sexual abuse raised by Miss Universe Indonesia contestants
A number of Miss Universe Indonesia participants have filed police reports, alleging that the organizers subjected them to sexual abuse. According to one of their attorneys, the contestants were required to remove their tops for “body checks” and photos just two days prior to the August 3 finals.
The organizers purportedly claimed the need to inspect for scars, cellulite, or tattoos on their bodies.
“I feel that my rights have been violated,” one of the contestants said.
“It has affected me mentally. I have had trouble sleeping,” she said, speaking to the media, alongside other complainants, earlier this week. Local television blurred their faces in the broadcasts to protect their identities.
Mellisa Anggraeni, a lawyer representing three contestants who raised concerns, indicated that many more individuals are likely to come forward. Authorities in Jakarta have issued a statement confirming their intent to conduct further investigations.
The Miss Universe Indonesia Organization, as mentioned by celebrity owner Poppy Capella, will also be looking into the allegations.
The global Miss Universe Organization expressed its commitment to thoroughly examining the matter, emphasizing its serious approach towards any allegations of sexual misconduct.
While routine body checks are customary in the country, the practice of requiring contestants to undress is uncommon, noted Maria Harfanti, a former Miss Indonesia. She also mentioned that organizers often request contestants’ BMI or body mass index to assess their physique proportions.
During a press conference on Monday, one of the complainants disclosed that the body checks took place within an enclosed room, where some men were present. The door was not completely closed, enabling those outside to have a view, she further revealed.
While beauty pageants have long been allowed in Indonesia, organizers are careful not to offend conservative sections of society. In 2013, the Miss World pageant canceled its bikini round when it was staged in a largely Muslim nation.
Miss Universe, which is now on its 73rd edition, is popular in Southeast Asia, especially in Indonesia, the Philippines, and Thailand, where winners go on to become celebrities and social media influencers.
Its owner Anne Jakrajutatip a Thai transgender woman and media mogul has sought to revamp the brand to make it more inclusive by allowing married women, transgender women, and single mothers to compete.