The state broadcaster in Egypt has suspended eight female broadcasters, telling them they need to go on a diet.
Channel 2 suspended the eight women, saying they have a month to lose weight as long as they have an “appropriate appearance” to go back on air.
The Egyptian Radio and Television Union (ERTU) was involved in the instruction to slim down, Al-Yawm al-Sabi reports.
What’s more, ERTU has a female director, Safaa Hegazy, who appeared on state TV as an anchor herself.
One of the hosts, Khadija Khattab told Al-Yawm al-Sabi that she wants viewers to decide for themselves whether she is too “fat” to appear on television.
A second presented suspended said her family had been affected and that the situation could have been dealt with internally.
According to the Women’s Centre for Guidance and Legal Awareness, the decision “violates the constitution” and that it is a form of abuse against women.
Amid calls to reverse the decision, ERTU has said it will not back down, but that the woman will still receive pay and benefits during their month’s leave.
A debate has broken out in Egypt over the decision, with many commentators backing up the decision, but others saying that state TV should improve the quality of its content, rather than focus on the appearance of its female hosts.
Many took to social media to defend the women, with some describing the hosts as “strong women”, but others used the term ‘bakabouzas’ to describe the women, an Egyptian slang term meaning overweight woman.
Egypt’s parliament defended the women, with MP Sayyid Hegazy asking: “Who is an ideal weight in Egypt?”
He added that a presenter “might be a little overweight, but she is eloquent”.