Egypt’s state broadcaster, Egyptian Radio and Television Union (ERTU), has suspended eight of its female presenters because it says they are overweight. According to local reports (link in Arabic), the presenters have been given a month off and will only be allowed to go back on air when their appearance is deemed “appropriate.” The presenters will be paid and able to access full benefits while suspended.
As expected, the decision has been widely criticized by groups including the Women’s Centre for Guidance and Legal Awareness (WCGLA) which described it as a violation of the country’s constitution and called for its reversal. Calling the move sexist, as no men were similarly suspended, WCGLA also described the decision as violence against women. So far, the state broadcaster has not budged.
Another group, Association for the Development and Enhancement of Women, has also criticized the decision. Eman Beibers, chairwoman of the Cairo-based organization, said it is a “problem” to “judge people by appearance rather than performance and content.“
“I’d have appreciated the suspension decision if those presenters were suspended because they did their job badly or appeared with excessive make-up,” Beibers said. “Judging anybody on the basis of his or her body weight is not the right criterion.”