Egypt State TV to Female Hosts: Lose Weight or Lose Job

Women's rights groups are calling mandate sexist
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 18, 2016 8:22 AM CDT

Eight female TV hosts in Egypt have been suspended, and they've been given one month to win their jobs back—if they come back a few pounds lighter. Via the BBC, the Al-Yawm al-Sabi website reports the state-run Egyptian Radio and Television Union issued the slim-down mandate, though the women are being paid and receiving benefits during their monthlong moratorium. Women's rights activists, as well as the presenters themselves, are livid: An Egyptian women's rights NGO is calling the edict a form of violence against women, and host Khadija Khattab is imploring viewers to watch her newscasts to determine a) if she's "fat," and b) whether her weight should affect her job status. "I believe I am an ordinary Egyptian woman who looks normal," she says, per the New York Times. Critics are also calling the move sexist, as only female presenters were suspended, the Independent notes.

The ERTU is headed by Safaa Hegazy, a former female news anchor herself who the Telegraph notes was brought in in April to make the broadcaster more competitive, since ratings for state-run channels tanked after the 2011 Egyptian uprising. Some who approve of the suspension are women: Per the Times, a female commentator for the government-run Al-Ahram website says she's "sickened" by the suspended hosts' "disgusting and repulsive" appearance, while a female colleague asks: "Is a ban for eight enough?" The chair of Cairo's Association for the Development and Enhancement of Women, however, tells the Independent that "judging anybody on the basis of his or her body weight is not the right criterion," adding weight shouldn't be an issue "as long as he or she does not use nasty words on the air and knows well how to deal with guests." Her model example: Oprah Winfrey. (An eighth-grader refused to give her BMI for a school assignment.)

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