New Delhi: Six Miss Universe Indonesia pageant contestants have filed sexual harassment complaints against the organisers, claiming they were subjected to topless “body checks”. As per a report by Reuters, the Indonesian beauty pageant contestants said that the organisers asked five of them to strip to their underwear for physical examinations in a room with more than 20 people, including men. The police have confirmed that the contestants had filed a report that would be investigated, added Reuters.
Going into details of what happened, their lawyer Mellisa Anggraen said that the five contestants were photographed topless and added that there was no need for such checks, reported Reuters.
In addition to that, one of the complainants told a press conference, broadcast by news channel Kompas TV, that she had been asked to pose inappropriately, including by opening her legs.
“I felt like I was being peeked on, I was very confused and uncomfortable,” the woman said in the press conference, who did not wish to be named and the broadcaster blurred her face.
The Miss Universe Organization also gave a statement on Tuesday, saying that the allegations have been taken “seriously” and the matter was being probed.
“Miss Universe takes allegations of sexual abuse and impropriety extremely seriously. Providing a safe place for women is the Miss Universe Organization’s utmost priority,” the statement said.
Additionally, as per a BBC report, former Miss Indonsia, Maria Harfanti said that while body checks are normal in the country, contestants are not usually asked to strip naked. She also said that organisers also often ask for the contestants’ BMI or body mass index to check their body proportions.
While beauty pageants have long been permitted in Indonesia, organisers take great care not to offend conservative segments of the population. Reportedly, when the Miss World pageant was held in the predominantly Muslim country in 2013, the bikini round was cancelled.
About Miss Universe:
Miss Universe is popular in South-east Asia, particularly in Indonesia, the Philippines, and Thailand, where winners go on to become celebrities and social media influencers.
Its owner, Thai transgender woman and media mogul, Anne Jakrajutatip, has attempted to revamp the brand to make it more inclusive by allowing married women, transgender women, and single mothers to compete.