Egypt’s state broadcaster has come under fire for suspending eight of its female television presenters for being overweight.
According to local news, the channel told the women to ‘go on a diet’, or be taken off air – and have been given one month to do so.
The move was made by a woman who, herself, is a former TV presenter – Safaa Hegazy, the chair of the Egyptian Radio and Television Union (ERTU).
Hegazy, who was appointed to the role in April, has been working on an overhaul that is trying to overturn the broadcaster’s dowdy image.
She told the women they could return to work when they had an “appropriate appearance”.
The decision has been slammed by women’s rights groups, who have labelled it as sexist – seeing as no men were removed from their posts. Egypt's The Women's Centre for Guidance and Legal Awareness have written a Facebook post condemning the move, and have called on ERTU to reconsider.
The suspended presenters have since spoken out, with one telling Buzzfeed News that she believes the move is “moral assassination”.
“I have worked here for more than 15 years and now suddenly those who hate me are publicly defaming me and my career,” continued Khadija Khattab.
The presenter told the news site that she will not be altering her appearance, saying: “I won’t lose any weight. I am satisfied with how I look and if they decide to do what they say, I will take a legal path for help.”
Khattab also spoke out to told Saudi newspaper Al Watan, saying she felt humiliated, and called on viewers to tell her if they agreed she was too fat.
ERTU, however, have said that while they will not reverse their decision the women will continue to be paid while on suspension.