Organisers of Miss Universe Indonesia respond to sexual harassment claims

Six contestants have contacted police alleging they were subjected to 'body checks' in public

Fabienne Groeneveld was crowned Miss Universe Indonesia last week. Photo: @missuniverse_id / Instagram
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The owner of Miss Universe Indonesia has responded to allegations contestants were subjected to sexual harassment.

Six women filed complaints with police on Tuesday alleging organisers of the pageant conducted topless "body checks", telling contestants the reason for it was "to examine any scars, cellulite or tattoos on their bodies". The "examinations" took place in a room with more than 20 people including men, they allege.

Five were photographed topless, their lawyer Mellisa Anggraeni said.

"We at Miss Universe Indonesia are closely monitoring the situation," national director Poppy Capella posted on Miss Universe Indonesia's Instagram account. "We are actively investigating the allegations that have been reported in the mass media.

"We will conduct a thorough investigation and review the allegations made against us. We will promptly take the necessary action."

Police confirmed they are investigating the claims.

"I feel that my rights have been violated. It has affected me mentally. I have had trouble sleeping," one of the contestants told Indonesian media.

Miss Universe Indonesia was held in Jakarta from July 29 to August 3 with 30 contestants vying for the title. Model and business student Fabienne Groeneveld, 23, won the crown at a glittering ceremony attended by reigning Miss Universe R'Bonney Gabriel.

Last week's event was the first Miss Universe Indonesia pageant under new owners.

Capella, a singer and entrepreneur, became the national director after a controversial round of bidding, which led to another organisation, Yayasan Puteri Indonesia, relinquishing the right to host Miss Universe Indonesia after 30 years.

Different entities can own the right to host national pageants. For example, Yugen Group in Dubai owns the rights to Miss Universe Bahrain, Miss Universe Pakistan and Miss Universe Egypt.

"We have recently been made aware of allegations regarding the 2023 Miss Universe Indonesia competition and the franchise in Indonesia that operates the pageant," the Miss Universe Organisation posted on Instagram on Tuesday.

"Miss Universe takes allegations of sexual abuse and impropriety extremely seriously. Providing a safe place for women is the Miss Universe Organisation's utmost priority, and we are looking into this matter."

One of the longest-running and most popular beauty pageants in the world, Miss Universe will hold its 72nd event in El Salvador on November 18. More than 80 contestants are expected to take part, where current Miss Universe Gabriel from the US will crown her successor.

Updated: August 09, 2023, 11:20 AM