Egyptian government orders female TV anchors to lose weight

Khadijah Khattab wants viewers to judge whether she deserves to be suspended over her appearance

CAIRO: Egypt’s state broadcaster has suspended eight of its female TV presenters and told them to go on a diet.

There was uproar among women’s rights groups.

The Egyptian Radio and Television Union (ERTU) has given the women one month to slim down 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 prompted an outcry among affected presenters. Khadijah Khattab (pictured), a host on Egypt’s Channel 2, told the paper she wants people to watch her most recent TV appearances and judge if she is really “fat”, and if she deserves to be stopped from working. Another anchor said the situation had upset their families and 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 called on the ERTU to backtrack.

Despite the criticism, ERTU sources told the Veto news website the decision will not be reversed, but that the women will not have their pay and benefits docked.

Egyptian media commentators are debating whether the suspensions were justified.

On social media, some users voiced support for the women, but others called them “bakabouzas”, a term Egyptians use to describe overweight girls.