Two Egyptian women's groups file complaints against TV anchor Yasmine Ezz

Ahram Online , Thursday 12 Jan 2023

Two women's rights advocacy bodies have filed complaints against Egyptian TV anchor Yasmine Ezz over what they described as "regressive" content she presents at her TV show Talks of People (Kalam Al-Nass), which is aired daily on Saudi TV satellite channel MBC Masr and discusses social issues.

TV anchor Yasmine Ezz
From left to right: TV anchor Yasmine Ezz; Chairwoman of the National Council for Women (NCW) Maya Morsy; Head of the Egyptian Centre for Women's Rights (ECWR) Nehad Abul-Qomsan


Well-known human rights activist Nehad Abul-Qomsan, who heads the non-government Egyptian Centre for Women's Rights (ECWR), said in a complaint filed on Wednesday with the country's public prosecution that Ezz’s content promotes violence against women.  Furthermore, the state-affiliated National Council for Women (NCW) has also turned to the country's Supreme Council for Media Regulations (SCMR), calling for suspending her TV programme.

Ezz, who has recently gained fame for her speech focusing on gender roles with celebrities she interviews in her show, has been a source of contention over the past few months over her remarks that raised a lot of feminists' eyebrows.

In her show, Ezz excessively heaps praise on Egyptian men and advises Egyptian wives to show more respect for their husbands. "The man is one of God’s blessings like food and drink… And as is the case with food, there is an etiquette for dealing with the husband,” Ezz said in one episode. In another episode, she said Egyptian husbands are like "a rare artefact."

In one of her weirdest -- but also seen as comical by many -- comments, the 34-year-old anchor urged wives to call their husbands Mr before their names. "When your husband returns home, you should give him attention… he must feel his entrance [to home] has a prestige." Such a gesture "would captivate him," she added.

Ezz promotes violence against women through her “inflammatory” speech that calls on women to accept violence and degradation, said Abul-Qomsan in her complaint No. 1958/2023.

Ezz’s "speech also contains mockery, sarcasm, and bullying against the Egyptian family, particularly the wife and the husband," the chairwoman continued.

The anchor "takes advantage of individual cases circulated on social media to normalise domestic violence against wives, spreading ideas that destroy the Egyptian family -- the pillar of society," Abul-Qomsan stressed.

"Ezz’s speech contradicts the Egyptian constitution and laws as well as the state's approach towards achieving the basics of human rights through the [recently launched] National Strategy for Human Rights as well as Egypt’s Vision for 2030," said Abul-Qomsan.

She added that Ezz's speech targets "destroying the country’s efforts to empower Egyptian women socially, politically, and economically."

Abul-Qomsan concluded her complaint by stating that Ezz’s speech crosses the boundaries from free speech to criminal behaviour under Egypt's criminal and cybercrime laws.

In its complaint, the NCW echoed the same accusations against Ezz, asserting that she presents "offensive" and "radical" content that "insults, degrades, and diminishes Egyptian women."

The TV show broadcasts "inflammatory rhetoric [urging] violence against Egyptian women, the normalisation of insult and beating of wives by husbands, and the notion that women must accept violence and humiliation," the NCW said in a statement.

The show also contains "mockery and bullying against the circumstances of the Egyptian family," the NCW added, warning that such comments would lead to the destruction of the social structure and the eruption of conflicts within the family.

The NCW said it took this step after it had received on social media complaints from Egyptian women who are bent out of shape due to Ezz's comments and want her programme to come to a halt.

A day earlier, NCW Chairwoman Maya Morsy and Ezz exchanged criticism on social media, with the former urging Ezz -- without naming her -- to declare to the public that her TV show is "a satirical programme and that you target being a [social media] trend."

"It is impossible that your TV show is real. It should be a prank programme," Morsy wrote on Facebook, urging Ezz to review the media-related ethics.

In response, the TV presenter justified in a post on her Facebook page her remarks, stressing that she seeks to preserve the unity of the Egyptian family.

Indeed, other audiences already do not take Ezz's programme seriously and consider her recent remarks as an attempt to trend on social media to gain popularity and make more views.

In February 2022, Ezz raised an earlier clash with women advocates for showing "acceptance and tolerance" towards a shocking incident of a groom who appeared in a video repeatedly beating his bride in an Ismailia street.

Following a wave of criticism, Ezz backtracked on her comments, emphasising that she had misspoken and denied her acceptance of violence against women.

According to official statistics, 31 per cent of currently or previously married Egyptian women aged between 15 and 49 were subjected to some form of physical, sexual, or psychological abuse by their spouses in 2021.

Some 22 per cent of married women experienced psychological abuse at the hands of their husbands, while 25.5 per cent experienced physical abuse. In addition, 26 per cent of the women in the same category were subjected to physical and psychological abuse.


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