Washington—The Miss Universe Organization has cut ties with its Indonesia franchise, it announced days after allegations of sexual harassment, and will cancel an upcoming Malaysia edition.
In the complaint, more than a half dozen women said all 30 finalists for Miss Universe Indonesia were unexpectedly asked to strip for a supposed body check for scars and cellulite two days before the pageant’s crowning ceremony in Jakarta.
Their lawyer said Tuesday that five of the women had their pictures taken.
“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,” the US-based Miss Universe Organization posted Saturday night on social media site X, formerly known as Twitter.
It said that it had “decided to terminate the relationship with its current franchise in Indonesia, PT Capella Swastika Karya, and its National Director, Poppy Capella.”
It thanked the contestants for their bravery in coming forward and added that “providing a safe place for women” was the organization’s priority.
Jakarta police spokesman Trunoyudo Wisnu Andiko said Tuesday that an investigation into the women’s complaint has been launched.
The Indonesia franchise also holds the license for Miss Universe Malaysia, where there will no longer be a competition this year, according to the New York-based parent organizer.
In a lengthy statement posted to Instagram, Indonesia franchise director Capella denied involvement in any body checks.
“I, as the National Director and as the owner of the Miss Universe Indonesia license, was not involved at all and have never known, ordered, requested or allowed anyone who played a role and participated in the process of organizing Miss Universe Indonesia 2023 to commit violence or sexual harassment through body checking,” she wrote.
She added that she is against “any form of violence or sexual harassment.”
The Jakarta competition was held from July 29 to August 3 to choose Indonesia’s representative to the 2023 Miss Universe contest, and was won by Fabienne Nicole Groeneveld.
Miss Universe said it would make arrangements for her to compete in the finale, scheduled for November in El Salvador.
This year’s Indonesia pageant also came under fire for announcing a “significant change in this (year’s) competition guidelines” with the elimination of its minimum height requirement after it had crowned a winner.
In its statement, the Miss Universe Organization said it wanted to “make it extremely clear that there are no measurements such as height, weight, or body dimensions required to join a Miss Universe pageant worldwide.”