Miss Universe Indonesia Contestants Speak Out Against Sexual Harassment

Several contestants in the Miss Universe Indonesia pageant have come forward with allegations of sexual abuse by the organizers. The women claim that they were asked to remove their tops for “body checks” and photographs just days before the finals. While beauty pageants are allowed in Indonesia, the organizers are careful not to offend the country’s conservative society. In 2013, the Miss World pageant cancelled its bikini round when it was held in Indonesia, a predominantly Muslim nation.

The complaints filed by the contestants will serve as the basis for a police investigation. Under Indonesian law, sexual abuse can be punished with up to 15 years in prison. Mellisa Anggraeni, a lawyer representing three candidates, confirmed the complaint and stated that more complainants would come forward. Reuters reported that a total of six candidates filed complaints with the police.

The organizers had reportedly informed the contestants that the body checks were conducted to examine any scars, cellulite, or tattoos on their bodies. The Miss Universe Indonesia Organization, owned by Indonesian celebrity Poppy Capella, has declared that it will investigate the allegations. The global Miss Universe Organization has also stated that it takes allegations of sexual impropriety very seriously and is looking into the matter.

Several complainants spoke out during a press conference, although their faces were blurred on television to protect their identities. One of the contestants stated that she felt her rights as a woman had been violated and that the incident had taken a toll on her mental health, causing trouble sleeping due to overthinking. She also revealed that during the body checks, there were men present in the closed room, with the door not completely shut, allowing people outside to see what was happening.

Maria Harfanti, a former Miss Indonesia who finished third in Miss World 2015, stated that body checks are a normal part of the pageant in the country but contestants are not usually asked to strip naked. Harfanti explained that organizers typically request contestants’ body mass index (BMI) to assess their body proportions.

Miss Universe is an immensely popular pageant in Southeast Asia, particularly in Indonesia, the Philippines, and Thailand. Winners of the competition often go on to become celebrities and social media influencers. The current owner of the Miss Universe Organization is Anne Jakrajutatip, a Thai transgender woman and media mogul, who has aimed to make the brand more inclusive by allowing married women, transgender women, and single mothers to participate.

This incident of sexual harassment in the Miss Universe Indonesia pageant serves as a reminder of the pervasive issue of abuse faced by women in various industries. It highlights the importance of creating safe spaces and implementing strict policies to prevent such misconduct. The response from both the Miss Universe Indonesia Organization and the global Miss Universe Organization will determine their commitment to addressing this serious matter and upholding the rights of the contestants. The outcome of the police investigation will also impact the public perception of the pageant and may lead to changes in the regulations surrounding beauty pageants in Indonesia.

To ensure the future safety and well-being of contestants, it is essential for pageant organizers to establish clear guidelines and protocols to prevent any form of harassment or abuse. These measures should include comprehensive training programs for staff and volunteers, as well as robust reporting and support systems for contestants. Creating an empowering and respectful environment for contestants is not only necessary for their personal well-being but also for promoting the values of equality and respect for women in society.

The Miss Universe Indonesia pageant and other similar events should take this incident as an opportunity to reevaluate their practices and prioritize the safety and dignity of participants. By taking decisive action against sexual harassment and implementing measures for prevention, the Miss Universe Organization can demonstrate its commitment to fostering a fair and inclusive environment for all contestants. Only by addressing such issues head-on can the pageant industry rebuild trust and ensure that these prestigious competitions continue to celebrate beauty, talent, and intelligence without compromising the rights and well-being of the participants.