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Egypt female TV anchors given ultimatum to lose weight

Egypt’s state broadcaster on Thursday suspended eight of its female TV anchors and told them to go on a diet and slim down, sparking uproar among women’s rights groups.

According to an Egyptian news site Al-Yawm al-Sabi, the Egyptian Radio and Television Union (ERTU) gave the women one month to slim down before they can appear on air again with an “appropriate appearance.”

The announcement has caused ripples in the Egypt’s media industry.

Khadija Khattab, a host on Egypt’s Channel 2, told Al-Yawm al-Sabi 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.

The Women’s Centre for Guidance and Legal Awareness, through a statement on Facebook, condemned the move, saying it “violates the constitution” and is a form of violence against women and called on the union to backtrack.

A journalist from the state-owned Al-Ahram daily, Fatma al-Sharawi said she thinks the policy should be applied across local TV stations.

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

One female Twitter user described ERTU head Safaa Hegazy as a “strong woman” for making the decision.

The presenters have been defended in parliament, though, with male MP and journalist Sayyid Hegazy asking, “Who is an ideal weight in Egypt?”

The legislator told the Sada al-Balad news site that a presenter “might be a little overweight, but she is eloquent.”