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Accounts of ‘physique checks’ at Miss Universe Indonesia shock the nation as contestants converse out

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JAKARTA, Indonesia — Their desires of representing Indonesia within the 2023 Miss Universe pageant turned to nightmares once they have been pressured to endure “physique checks” in entrance of native organizers. Now seven contestants have filed complaints with the police, accusing the organizers of sexual harassment, their lawyer stated Tuesday.

Throughout the July 29-Aug. 3 Miss Universe Indonesia contest within the capital of Jakarta — and forward of the present’s Grand Last occasion — the contestants have been informed to strip to their underwear for “physique checks” for scars or cellulite, stated lawyer Melissa Anggraini.

The checks passed off in a ballroom on the downtown Sari Pacific Resort, the place the competition was held, with about two dozen individuals current, together with males. 5 of the contestants stated they have been then photographed topless, Anggraini stated.

“We’ve obtained some evidences, even movies displaying that the organizer had carried out ‘physique checks’,” she added.

One among her shoppers, 23-year-old mannequin Priskila Ribka Jelita who represented West Java province within the pageant, recounted her “physique verify” ordeal in an interview with The Related Press.

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“Once they requested me to open my bra … I used to be shocked! However I couldn’t converse or refuse,” she stated. “Once I tried to cowl my breast with my hand, I used to be even scolded and yelled at.”

“I used to be completely confused, nervous and humiliated, particularly once I was informed to raise my left leg on the chair and allow them to study my leg,” Jelita stated. The “examination” continued up her leg to “my non-public intimate half,” she added.

After information of the “physique checks” leaked out, the Miss Universe Group minimize its ties with its Indonesian franchisee. The New York-based group stated in an announcement late Saturday that it had determined to sever ties with PT Capella Swastika Karya, the franchisee, and its Nationwide Director Poppy Capella.

“In gentle of what we’ve realized passed off at Miss Universe Indonesia, it has grow to be clear that this franchise has not lived as much as our model requirements and ethics,” the Miss Universe Group stated on the social media platform X, previously referred to as Twitter.

The group additionally stated it might be cancelling this yr’s Miss Universe Malaysia because the Indonesian franchisee additionally holds the license for the neighboring nation’s pageant.

It stated it might make preparations for the Indonesia 2023 title holder, Fabienne Nicole Groeneveld, who gained in Jakarta, to compete within the upcoming Miss Universe pageant, to be held in El Salvador later this yr.

Groeneveld was not among the many contestants who filed a grievance.

Jelita’s mom, Maria Napitupulu, stated she discovered what occurred to her daughter solely after studying her daughter’s put up on Instagram, the place she recounted the ordeal.

“It’s very unhappy and this actually hurts me,” Napitupulu stated, tears streaming down her cheeks.

In March, Indonesian magnificence firm PT Capella Swastika Karya took over the license for Miss Universe Indonesia from Yayasan Putri Indonesia, or YPI, an Indonesian basis that had held the license for 30 years.

Capella, a former singer and the franchisee’s supervisor, couldn’t be reached for remark.

In a put up on the franchisee’s Instagram account, Capella on Saturday denied she had any information of or was in any means concerned in any “physique checking” of the contestants. She additionally stated that she was in opposition to each type of “violence and sexual harassment.”

In its assertion, the Miss Universe Group stated no measurements of peak, weight, or physique dimensions are required to hitch the pageant, and thanked the Indonesian contestants who’ve proven “bravery in talking out.”

Because the “physique checks” information broke, controversy over the pageant has been mounting in Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation. The nation has a popularity as a tolerant, pluralist society that respects freedom of expression.

Most Muslims in Indonesia, a secular nation of 277 million individuals, are reasonable, however a small hard-line fringe has grow to be extra vocal in recent times.

In 2013, a number of conservative Muslim teams staged a large protest in opposition to the Miss World competitors in Indonesia, prompting the organizers to maneuver the competition from Jakarta to the resort island of Bali. All the greater than 130 contestants have been required to put on Bali’s conventional lengthy sarongs as a substitute of the bikinis which have traditionally been a logo of the competitors.


Related Press author Niniek Karmini in Jakarta, Indonesia, contributed to this report.

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