As challenging as the struggle can be for women trying to make it in the media business in the U.S., women in other countries sometimes have things even worse. The BBC reports that the state television operation in Egypt came under fire after it suspended eight female TV presenters and ordered them to lose weight.
“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,” the BBC reports.
The report adds: “The announcement prompted an outcry among the affected presenters. Khadija Khattab, a host on Egypt’s Channel 2, told the paper that she wants people to watch her most recent TV appearances and judge for themselves if she is really ‘fat,’ and whether she deserves to be prevented from working. Another presenter said the situation had upset their families and should have been dealt with internally.”
The Women’s Centre for Guidance and Legal Awareness came out strongly against the move, calling it a form of violence against women and saying it violates the constitution, the BBC reports. The group called on the ERTU to reverse its decision.
“Despite the criticism, ERTU sources told the Veto news website that the decision won’t be reversed, but that the women won’t have their pay and benefits docked,” the BBC report notes.
“On social media, some users voiced support for the women, but others called them ‘bakabouzas,’ a term Egyptians use to describe overweight girls,” the report adds. “One female Twitter user described ERTU head Safaa Hegazy as a ‘strong woman’ for making the decision.”