Miss Universe Indonesia 2023 contestants have accused organizers of sexual harassment.
Several alleged that they were forced to strip down for topless “body checks,” Reuters reported.
The Miss Universe Organization told Insider it is looking into the matter.
Contestants who recently competed in the 2023 Miss Universe Indonesia pageant have alleged that they were forced to strip down for topless “body checks” and were then photographed, according to reports.
An attorney representing six of the beauty pageant contestants said on Tuesday that the group has filed complaints with Indonesian police accusing the organizers of the competition of sexual harassment, Reuters reported.
Local authorities told Reuters that the contestants filed a police report and that an investigation into the matter would be launched.
The national director of the Miss Universe Indonesia pageant did not immediately respond on Tuesday to a request for comment by Insider sent via social media. Insider also messaged the official Instagram account for Miss Universe Indonesia but did not immediately hear back.
The Miss Universe Organization told Insider in a statement that it was recently “made aware of the allegations regarding the Miss Universe Indonesia 2023 pageant and the franchisee in Indonesia that operates the pageant.”
“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, and we are looking into this matter,” the organization added.
Miss Universe Indonesia 2023 was held in the Indonesia capital of Jakarta from July 29 through August 3.
The contestants who filed the police report alleged that organizers asked five of them to strip down to their underwear for physical exams in front of more than 20 people, including men, Reuters reported.
The attorney for the group of women, Mellisa Anggraeni, said the competitors were then photographed while topless, according to Reuters.
“I felt like I was being peeked on, I was very confused and uncomfortable,” one unidentified accuser said during a press conference broadcast by local news network Kompas TV, Reuters reported.
Anggraeni said in an Instagram post that the unwarranted “body checking” happened in a hotel ballroom in Jakarta on August 1.
The Miss Universe Organization has been embroiled in controversy over the last year. It first made headlines in October after more than a dozen contestants alleged that the Miss USA 2022 pageant had been rigged in favor of Miss Texas R’Bonney Gabriel, who went on to win Miss Universe in January.
Insider spoke to many of the competing contestants, who pointed to multiple conflicts of interest between Gabriel and Miss USA’s national sponsors — including Miss Academy, the pageant school owned by Miss USA president Crystle Stewart.
The Miss Universe Organization suspended Stewart and launched an investigation. On August 1, the Miss Universe Organization said a “thorough and extensive investigation” had found that the rigging allegations “were false” but said Stewart will no longer serve as president of Miss USA.
Contestants of the Miss USA 2022 pageant also told Insider that they had received no mental health support during the competition, which occurred just months after Miss USA 2019 Cheslie Kryst died by suicide.
Weeks after the rigging allegations were made, it was also revealed that Stewart’s husband, Max Sebrechts, had stepped down as vice president of Miss USA after multiple contestants from the 2021 pageant said he had sexually harassed them during the competition.
In a statement sent to Insider in October, a spokesperson for Miss Universe said the organization was made aware of the allegations against Sebrechts in late December 2021 and “immediately requested a review.” Sebrechs was removed as an employee from the organization in January 2022.
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