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Unduk Ngadau organiser: Be brave and come forward if you've been harrassed - The Star Online

KOTA KINABALU: Victims of harassment in the Unduk Ngadau (Harvest Queen) cultural pageant are urged to be brave and come out so that justice can be served, says Unduk Ngadau Borderless Kaamatan organiser Joanna Kitingan.

She said the recent allegations raised by the contestant who said that she was molested by a politician who is a member of the organising committee came as a shock to many.

“We are saddened, shocked and disappointed by the reports but we are glad that the contestant was brave enough to lodge a report on it, ” she said in a statement here on Thursday (June 3).

“We hope that more people will come forward and state their case as we want the Unduk Ngadau’s reputation to be upheld, ” added Kitingan, who also said that the organisers also want to protect their contestants.

Kitingan said they empathise with the contestant, especially considering what she might have gone through and what she is going through at the moment.

She added that she believes that justice will be served and pledged to give her fullest cooperation to the authorities throughout their investigations to this case.

On matters of safety concerning the contestants, she said the organising committee had done their best in all aspects of the event.

“We even organised a talk on sexual harassment via Zoom, ” Kitingan said, adding that the idea of women being out on stage paraded as objects, stared at, bullied or taken advantage of were not part of tradition.

She said over the past six decades, apart from paying tribute to the legendary Huminodun, the idea of the Unduk Ngadau pageant was to be a platform to promote the Kadazandusun Murut and Rungus cultures.

Kitingan also said that the pageant was aimed at helping rural women understand their worth and to expose them to the outside world.

According to the report lodged by the contestant, she had followed the alleged perpetrator to dinner after a photo shoot for the Unduk Ngadau event on May 19.

She claimed that he had harassed her in his car and later in an office despite her protests and discomfort.

The matter only went viral on various social media platforms after the Kaamatan celebrations ended on May 31