BEAUTY pageant organisers must encourage their contestants to speak up against any sexual harassment even if the perpetrators are the main sponsors, VIPs or part of the organising committee.
Kuching-born 2018 Miss World Malaysia Larissa Ping said organisers have a responsibility to protect their contestants and must uphold integrity in handling such incidents.
“Always listen to your contestants and encourage them to speak up against such incidents as they don’t deserve to deal with it on their own. (Organisers) should address it promptly and never put it aside,” she said in a NST report.
Ping was responding to a recent incident where an Unduk Ngadau participant, in her 20s, claimed she was touched inappropriately on her thighs, hands, neck and back in a car while following a politician out to dinner in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.
Ping said such an incident was not something new in the industry and commended the contestant’s courage to speak up and lodge a police report so that action could be taken against the suspect.
Most of the time, she said, victims were afraid to speak up, especially when these perpetrators were the sponsors or part of the organising committee.
“As someone who believes that beauty pageants can leave a good impact in our community and that it empowers women, it is really sad to learn that this is still happening.”
She said if the accusation was true, it tarnished the image of the beauty pageant. However, she hoped that those who were planning to enter or were already participating in the industry, should stand strong and not give up easily.
“We should use this platform to continue to empower more women and shed light on important issues, including sexual harassment. We can only put an end to it when we have the courage to speak up against it,” she stressed.
Sabah’s Parti Solidariti Tanah Airku (STAR) has been arrested over the alleged sexual harassment of the Unduk Ngadau participant.