Miss Universe Indonesia contestants complain of sexual harassment

Miss Universe Indonesia contestants complain of sexual harassment

"I felt like I was being peeked on, I was very confused and uncomfortable," said the unidentified woman. The broadcaster blurred her face.

Six contestants of a Miss Universe Indonesia pageant have filed complaints with police accusing organisers of sexual harassment after they alleged they were subjected to topless "body checks," their lawyer said. Police confirmed contestants had filed a report that would be investigated.

The Indonesian contestants of the Indonesian beauty pageant, held in the capital Jakarta from July 29 to Aug.3, said 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 five contestants were then photographed topless, said their lawyer, Mellisa Anggraeni, adding there was no need for such checks. Six contestants had filed complaints, she said.

The Miss Universe Organisation said in a statement on Tuesday that it had been made aware of the allegations and it was looking into this matter.

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"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," it said.

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," said the unidentified woman. The broadcaster blurred her face.

Reuters tried to contact the company that runs the Miss Universe Indonesia pageant, PT Capella Swastika Karya, and the company's founder, Poppy Capella, through their social media accounts but they did not respond. Reuters was not able to find contact details for a company spokesperson.

Poppy Capella, national director of Miss Universe Indonesia, did not confirm or deny the allegations in an Instagram post, but expressed gratitude to those who had shared "their views, feelings and perspectives with us" over the incident, AFP reported. "Your comments are not mere words: they are a potent force," she wrote.

Jakarta police spokesperson Trunoyudo Wisnu Andiko said a report from contestants had been received on Monday and it would be investigated.

Religious groups in Indonesia, the world' most populous Muslim country, have in the past objected to beauty pageants.

Thai celebrity media tycoon and transgender rights advocate Jakapong "Anne” Jakrajutatip bought the Miss Universe Organisation for $20 million last year.

The contest in Jakarta was held to select Indonesia's entry for the annual Miss Universe competition to be held in El Salvador late this year.

The contest run by the Miss Universe Organisation, which was co-owned by Donald Trump between 1996 and 2002, has been running since 1952.

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