Khadija Khattab (Channel 2)
The Egyptian Radio and Television Union (ERTU) has given the women who work for the state owned TV and Radio station one month to lose weight before they can appear on air again with an “appropriate appearance”, the Al-Yawm al-Sabi website reports. The ERTU has a female director, Safaa Hegazy, a former state TV anchor herself.
This order led to an outcry among the affected presenters and women’s rights groups in the country.
One of the hosts on Egypt’s Channel 2 station, Khadija Khattab, said the audience should watch her most recent TV appearances and judge for themselves if she is really “fat”, and whether her weight should prevent her from working.
Another presenter complained bitterly that the situation had upset their families and that this situation of their weight issue should have been dealt with internally.
The Women’s Centre for Guidance and Legal Awareness condemned the move, saying it “violates the constitution” and is a form of violence against women. It’s called on the ERTU to backtrack.
Journalist Fatma al-Sharawi says the policy should apply to all local TV stations, while academic Waheed Abdul Majid says the channel should pay more attention to its content – not its hosts’ appearances.
Reaction on social media has been mixed, with some supporting the women and others calling them “bakabouzas” – a term for overweight girls.
A twitter user said: Some of them might be a little overweight, but they are eloquent”.
Despite the backlash, sources from ERTU said they will stick by the decision. The State TV has since pulled eight female TV presenters off air until they lose weight, adding that the hosts will still be paid their salaries and benefits during their stand-down period.