Miss Universe cuts ties with Indonesia over sexual abuse claims, Cancels Malaysia Pageant- Republic World

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The Miss Universe Organisation has ended its relationship with the Indonesian franchisee and will be canceling a forthcoming pageant in Malaysia. This action comes in response to contestants’ complaints filed with the police, alleging instances of sexual harassment involving the local organisers.

In an announcement made on Saturday, the organisation, headquartered in New York, revealed its decision to disassociate from PT Capella Swastika Karya, along with its National Director, Poppy Capella.

Police complaints have been lodged by six participants of a Miss Universe Indonesia pageant, alleging that the event’s local organizers instructed them to remove their clothing down to their underwear for the purpose of conducting “body checks.” These checks were purportedly intended to examine for scars or cellulite. The alleged incidents occurred within a room where approximately twenty-four individuals were present, including men. Additionally, five of the contestants claim that they were subsequently photographed without their tops on.

“In light of what we have learned took place at Miss Universe Indonesia, it has become clear that this franchise has not lived up to our brand standards and ethics,” the Miss Universe Organisation said on platform X, formerly known as Twitter.

Upcoming Miss Universe in Malaysia cancelled

Furthermore, the organisation has announced the cancellation of the upcoming Miss Universe Malaysia for this year. This decision stems from the fact that the same Indonesian franchisee, which has now been disassociated, possesses the license for both pageants. In light of this, the organization has outlined plans for the Indonesian title holder of 2023 to participate in the upcoming Miss Universe competition set to take place in El Salvador later this year.

The Miss Universe Indonesia pageant, which occurred from July 29 to August 3, aimed to select Indonesia’s representative for the 2023 Miss Universe contest. The victor of this pageant was Fabienne Nicole Groeneveld.

Indonesian company denies involvement

In March, PT Capella Swastika Karya, an Indonesian beauty company, assumed control of the Miss Universe Indonesia license from Yayasan Putri Indonesia (YPI), an Indonesian foundation that had held the license for three decades.

Poppy Capella, the founder of the company, has refuted any involvement in the physical examinations conducted during the contest. She firmly asserted her opposition to all forms of “violence and sexual harassment.”

“I, as the National Director and as the owner of the Miss Universe Indonesia license, was not involved at all and have never known, ordered, requested or allowed anyone who played a role and participated in the Miss Universe Indonesia 2023 process to commit violence or sexual harassment through body checking,” she posted on social media late Saturday.

Victims coerced into being photographed naked: Jakarta Police

Hengki Haryadi, the Director of General Crimes at the Jakarta police, stated on Sunday that during the Miss Universe Indonesia pageant, which took place in Jakarta from July 29 to August 3, the individuals who were affected were coerced into disrobing and subsequently photographed in the nude as part of a physical examination. These incidents occurred within a hotel ballroom.

“These victims feel forced to take off their clothes and pose inappropriately for body checking that traumatised them,” Haryadi said.

Hengki Haryadi further mentioned that the police are currently reviewing the footage captured by surveillance cameras at the location. The investigators will proceed to conduct interviews with the victims and offer psychological support as needed.

In its statement released on Saturday, the Miss Universe Organisation emphasized that there are no prerequisites regarding measurements like height, weight, or body dimensions for participation in any Miss Universe pageant across the globe. The organisation also expressed gratitude to the Indonesian contestants who demonstrated courage by coming forward and sharing their experiences.

“To the women who came forward from the Indonesian pageant, we are sorry that this was your experience with our organisation,” it said, adding that they were also evaluating their current franchise agreement and policies to prevent this type of conduct from occurring in the future worldwide.

Controversy surrounding the pageant has been escalating within Indonesia, which holds the distinction of being the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation. The country is renowned for its reputation as an open-minded and pluralistic society that upholds the principles of freedom of expression. While the majority of Muslims in Indonesia, a secular nation with a population of 277 million, maintain moderate views, a small yet vocal extremist minority has gained prominence in recent years.

Back in 2013, a number of conservative Muslim factions organised a substantial protest against the Miss World competition being held in Indonesia. This led to the event being relocated from Jakarta to the resort island of Bali, with a mandate for all over 130 contestants to don traditional, modest Bali long sarongs instead of the conventionally provocative bikinis that had been a customary element of the competition.

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