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Miss Universe Indonesia Controversy: Allegations of Sexual Harassment Surface




Six contestants of the Miss Universe Indonesia pageant have filed complaints with the police, accusing organizers of sexual harassment. These allegations stem from incidents during which they were reportedly asked to undergo topless “body checks”, as confirmed by their lawyer, Mellisa Anggraeni. Held in Jakarta from July 29 to Aug. 3, the Indonesian beauty pageant is now in the midst of a major scandal. Contestants have claimed they were asked to strip down to their underwear for physical examinations in a room containing over 20 individuals, which included men. These contestants were subsequently photographed topless. Anggraeni emphasized that there was no justification for such invasive examinations.

At a press conference broadcasted by the news channel Kompas TV, one of the complainants, whose identity was concealed, described her discomfort. “I felt like I was being peeked on; I was very confused and uncomfortable,” she said, adding that she had been asked to pose inappropriately.

Despite efforts, Reuters was unable to reach PT Capella Swastika Karya, the company responsible for the Miss Universe Indonesia pageant, or the company’s founder, Poppy Capella.

Official Response

The Miss Universe Organization has expressed its concern regarding the allegations. “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 organization mentioned in a statement.

Jakarta police spokesperson, Trunoyudo Wisnu Andiko, affirmed the receipt of a report on these allegations and assured that the matter would be investigated thoroughly.

The backdrop of the Pageant

Miss Universe Indonesia is an annual event to select the nation’s representation for the global Miss Universe competition. This year, the global event is set to take place in El Salvador.

The pageant has a rich history, running since 1952. For a period between 1996 and 2002, Donald Trump co-owned the Miss Universe Organization. Last year, the organization saw a change in ownership when Thai celebrity media tycoon and transgender rights advocate, Jakapong “Anne” Jakrajutatip, purchased it for $20 million.

Religious Context and Transgender Advocacy

  • Indonesia, recognized as the world’s most populous Muslim country, has seen objections from religious groups against beauty pageants in the past.
  • After taking over the Miss Universe Organization, Jakrajutatip, a transgender woman, praised it for being a women-centric entity. However, her transgender status brought about a wave of criticism. Some questioned the authenticity of her statements, referencing her transgender identity.
  • The realm of beauty pageants has seen increasing representation from the transgender community. Rikkie Valerie Kolle, a transgender woman, recently clinched the Miss Universe Netherlands title. In an Instagram statement, she expressed her pride and emphasized her identity, “And, yes, I’m trans and want to share my story but I’m also Rikkie.”
  • In 2021, Kataluna Enriquez, another transgender woman, made history by winning Miss Nevada USA. Additionally, in 2012, Canadian model Jenna Talackova became one of the first transgender competitors in a Miss Universe competition.

For more insights on the evolving nature of beauty pageants and inclusivity, do visit the official Miss Universe website.