The Miss Universe Organization (MUO) announced Saturday it has cut all ties with PT Capella Swastika Karya, the beauty products company that runs the Indonesian Miss Universe Pageant, due to allegations of sexual harassment against contestants.
Six of the finalists filed complaints with the police after they were strip-searched and photographed topless in a hotel ballroom.
“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, ethics, or expectations as outlined in our franchise handbook and code of conduct,” the organization said Saturday.
“PT Capella Swastika Karya and its principals will not be moving forward with Miss Universe Malaysia 2023, and will not be given any additional contracts within our organization. We will be canceling Miss Universe Malaysia 2023, and will make arrangements for the Indonesia 2023 titleholder to compete in this year’s Miss Universe pageant,” the statement said.
“To the women who came forward from the Indonesia pageant: we’re sorry that this was your experience with our organization. We appreciate your bravery in speaking out, and we pledge to do better in the future,” MUO said.
The six contestants who filed a police complaint said they were instructed by local organizers to remove their clothes for “body checks” for scars or cellulite. About two dozen people were in the room for these “body checks,” some of them male. Five of the complainants said they were photographed while topless.
One of the contestants said at a press conference that she was “asked to pose inappropriate, including by opening her legs,” according to the Bangkok Post.
“I felt like I was being peeked on, I was very confused and uncomfortable,” she said.
JAKARTA: Six contestants in the Miss Universe Indonesia pageant have accused organisers of sexual harassment after they alleged they were subjected to topless “body checks”, their lawyer said on Tuesday. https://t.co/MLGJja8dMw pic.twitter.com/j2hKFrsqlS
— Bangkok Post (@BangkokPostNews) August 8, 2023
The Miss Universe Indonesia pageant ran from July 29 to August 3. The winner was Fabienne Nicole Groeneveld. The worldwide pageant finale is scheduled to be held in El Salvador in November.
PT Capella Swastika Karya, a beauty company founded by Indonesian singer and actress Poppy Capella, took over management of the Miss Universe Indonesia pageant in February 2023. Capella became chairwoman of the pageant. The previous franchise holder, a pageant company called Puteri Indonesia, held the rights for thirty years.
“I, as the national director and as the owner of the Miss Universe Indonesia licence, 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,” Capella said in response to the allegations.
Jakarta police director Hengki Haryadi said on Sunday that an investigation is underway, including interviews with the victims and a review of surveillance camera video from the pageant venue. Haryadi said counseling has been provided for the contestants.
“These victims feel forced to take off their clothes and pose inappropriately for body checking that traumatized them,” he said.
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