The Jakarta Post
Fans of the scantily dressed Miss World contestants will be disappointed this year as the bikini category will not be included.
Contestants from across the globe will instead wear one-piece bathing suits and sarongs during the swimwear fashion show, in the multi week show slated to begin on Sept. 4.
According to RCTI's spokesperson Adjie S. Soeratmadjie, the official broadcaster and local organizer, sexy bikinis are being replaced in order to value the country's traditional customs and values.
The chairwoman of the Miss World Organization, Julia Morley, confirmed that none of the 137 contestants would wear a bikini, saying that the organization had agreed with the condition. 'We like to respect every country [we work in] and I cannot see why when you go to somebody's country you should not behave respectfully,' Julia Morley told the Associated Press.
Adjie said that the swimsuit fashion show was a sensitive issue and the organizers had a long discussion before deciding to cover the contestants with sarongs, following demands from hard-line Islamic groups to cancel the beauty pageant.
'That contest is just an excuse to show parts of women's bodies that should remain covered,' Mukri Ali, a prominent cleric from Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) said as quoted by the Associated Press. 'It's against Islamic teaching.'
The organizers also claimed that this year's pageant would focus on inner beauty, which includes intelligence, manners and achievements, instead of a woman's physical attributes.
The Miss World pageant was first held in London in 1951, and the first winner, Kiki Haakonson from Sweden, was the first and last winner to be crowned in a two-piece bathing suit. Due to mounting protests from the public, the following winners were no longer crowned while wearing a bikini.
Miss Indonesia 2005 Imelda Fransisca said that a bikini is only an accessory in a beauty pageant, therefore, a ban would not get in the way of the event's main purposes.
'The winner of the Miss World competition is selected to represent the Miss World organization at various charity activities, therefore, a bikini does not represent the main purpose of the event,' Imelda said.
'It is normal to wear a bikini on the beach, but of course it would be a different story [if women in bikinis] were broadcast on television and watched by the public, especially as the majority are Muslim,' she added. 'I guess there's nothing wrong in complying with the country's customs and values.'
Separately, the National Commission on Violence against Women (Komnas Perempuan) commissioner Sri Nurherawati said that such control on women was set by society and should not restrict women from developing themselves.
'A rule should be not to limit women from obtaining her rights,' Sri told The Jakarta Post on Friday. 'However, we should firstly observe at the main intention of this event. If it was aimed exploiting women's body parts, it is a form of violence against women,' she added.
Despite the fact that Indonesia has become increasingly attractive to world artists, it also becoming more stringent against international performers, when it comes to appearances deemed not in line with Islamic values.
Last year, Lady Gaga was forced to cancel her sold-out concert following threats by Islamic hard-liners. The same year, Jennifer Lopez was also forced to tone down her outfits and dance moves while performing in Jakarta.