Egypt’s state broadcaster has suspended eight female television presenters because it says they are overweight.
The Egyptian Radio and Television Union (ERTU) gave the women one month to lose weight and said they could return to work when they had an “appropriate appearance”, local media reported.
Only female anchors were removed from their posts, leading women's rights groups to condemn the move as sexist.
The Women's Centre for Guidance and Legal Awareness said suspending the women on the basis of their weight “violates the constitution” and was a form of violence against women. In a Facebook post, the organisation called on the ERTU to apologise and reverse the decision.
The ERTU told local media the decision would not be reversed, but that the women would continue to be paid while they were suspended.
Khadija Khattab, one of the presenters told to go on a diet, told Saudi newspaper Al Watan that the situation was humiliating and scandalous. She said she wanted people to watch her most recent TV appearances and judge if she was fat, and whether she deserved to be prevented from working.
Another presenter told local media the situation had upset her family and should have been dealt with internally, without the public finding out.
Safaa Hegazy, a former news anchor, was appointed head of the ERTU in April and vowed to overhaul the state broadcaster, which is perceived as dowdy and has struggled to compete with international satellite channels that employ younger hosts.
Egyptian media commentators were split on whether or not the suspensions were a good idea.