Jakarta, Indonesia
Reuters
 — 

The Miss Universe Organization said Saturday it was cutting ties with its Indonesian franchisee and canceling this year’s Malaysia pageant after contestants accused local organizers of sexual harassment.

The US-based organization said in an emailed statement late on Saturday it had decided to sever its contract with PT Capella Swastika Karya and its national director Poppy Capella, who also holds the license for Miss Universe Malaysia.

Six Miss Universe Indonesia contestants filed complaints with police accusing organizers of sexual harassment, saying they were subjected to topless “body checks,” their lawyer said on Tuesday.

“It has become clear that this franchise has not lived up to our brand standards, ethics, or expectations as outlined in our franchise handbook and code of conduct,” the Miss Universe Organization said, adding that providing a safe place for women was its utmost priority.

Jakarta police did not respond to a request for comment on Sunday. Spokesperson Trunoyudo Wisnu Andiko said on Tuesday the report would be investigated.

Capella said in a statement on Instagram she does not condone any form of sexual harassment.

“I emphasize that I, as the national director and license owner for Miss Universe Indonesia, was not involved at all and have never known, ordered, requested or allowed anyone who plays a role and participated in the process of organizing Miss Universe Indonesia 2023 to commit sexual harassment through body checking as reported,” she said.

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

The Miss Universe Organization said it was evaluating its policies and procedures to avoid similar occurrence in the future, adding that there are no measurement or body dimensions requirement to join their pageant worldwide.