JKT48 star Aurel turns to police over alleged online sexual harassment

A member of popular idol group JKT48, Aurel, has filed a police report after being the target of sexual harassment online, in which she received a lewd message through Instagram. Photo: Instagram/@jkt48aurel
A member of popular idol group JKT48, Aurel, has filed a police report after being the target of sexual harassment online, in which she received a lewd message through Instagram. Photo: Instagram/@jkt48aurel

A member of popular idol group JKT48 has filed a police report after being the target of sexual harassment online, in which she received a lewd message through Instagram. 

The member, Ni Made Ayu Vania Aurellia AKA Aurel, was reportedly stressed out by the incident that she could hardly sleep, according to JKT48’s spokesman Rino Sutopo.

“She was under stress that she could only have short naps for sleep, she felt disrespected as a woman. I think such behavior really made her feel down,” Rino said yesterday.

Fortunately, the 21-year-old singer said she has received support from her closest people as well as fans, who are cheering her on.

Aurel reportedly received a DM containing an unsolicited indecent photo along with a lewd message from an anonymous account on Instagram on Nov. 3, which prompted her to file a police report, accompanied by the group’s management, on Saturday.

The complaint letter was posted on JKT48’s official Twitter account, as part of a thread that demanded the group’s fans to act accordingly towards their idols online. The culprit is only referred to as “under investigation” as their identity is not yet known.

Previously, Aurel posted a series of tweets on the day she received the DM, expressing her anger and how she felt “worthless” as a woman after experiencing the harassment.

“Please! I really appreciate direct messages from you guys, but if the context of the DMs I receive have crossed towards sexual harassment, I am furious. Please respect each other. I know me being a public figure definitely has things I have to accept the consequences for, but please respect me as a woman,” Aurel wrote.

“Had I only blocked [the account], there will be many cases like that, I feel that it must be [legally] processed. If the culprit dared to do that it means that the culprit should be able to be responsible for their actions.”

Jakarta Metro Police’s spokesman Yusri Yunus said that Aurel and her witnesses will be summoned to testify soon.

JKT48 made headlines earlier this week after announcing that it’s downsizing, both in terms of entertainers and supporting staff, due to the financial drought since the onset of COVID-19 pandemic. The group, which was formed in 2011 as the sister group of Japanese idol group-slash-social phenomenon AKB48, is big on the concept of getting up close and personal with fans. One of the groups’ biggest draws being the “handshake” events in which fans can meet and greet the members in person.

As the pandemic rages on, JKT48 hasn’t been able resume its regular activities and has since been relying on virtual events such as live streaming and video calls with members. In a video statement, the group’s manager Melody Nurramdhani said that despite those efforts, they are still unable to cover operational costs.

“One thing that we would like to convey to the fans, in this situation, JKT48 is unable to continue with its activities and we have to stop everything,” Melody said.

Melody, who herself was one of the most popular JKT48 members during her stint in 2011-2018, said that the group currently has around 70 members, which includes academy students, and 50 staff. They have discussed the possibility of disbanding, but eventually ended up with a decision to reduce their members and staff.

Prior to the announcement, a member named Desy “graduated” from the group in October to pursue a career in the entertainment industry, while another member, Ratu, resigned last week due to personal reasons. In the AKB48 universe, graduating means leaving their group, mostly to pursue individual careers.

In late September and early October, current members Flora and Olla tested positive for the coronavirus, respectively. Both of them tested negative in late October, though another member named Vivi was later confirmed to have contracted COVID-19.

The name “AKB48” derives from the location of the group’s original stage in Akihabara, Tokyo. Yasushi Akimoto, AKB48’s producer and creator, created the girl group with its own theater in the area where they perform almost every day.

Other than Indonesia, Akimoto has since expanded the concept to several countries such as China (SNH48 for Shanghai, which later formed sister groups in other cities such as BEJ48 for Beijing), Thailand (BNK48), and the Philippines (MNL48), among others.

AKB48 and its concept groups are divided into different teams, each with their own captain, setlists of songs, and persona. As for JKT48 itself, it’s divided into three groups called Team J, Team KIII, and Team T, the first of which Aurel belongs to.

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