It’s not easy to quit a job, but sometimes ones convictions are more important than the job itself, especially if you are trying to make a point. Five Al Jazeera anchorwomen did just that, they all quit over continued criticism of their ‘appearance’ and other forms of harassment that had been going on for some time. Oftentimes, in the west ageism comes in to play and older female anchors are criticised, and sometimes their contracts are not renegotiated because they are considered too old. In this case, the women were being criticized for not dressing conservatively enough, so they resigned in protest after getting no satisfaction from a petition to management, back in January, about the ongoing harassment.
Five female presenters at Al Jazeera satellite channel have resigned over conflicts with management over “delicate issue”, including their looks and dresses.
Jumana Nammour (Lebanon), Luna Al Shibl (Syria), Lina Zahr Al Deen (Lebanon), Jullinar Mousa (Lebanon) and Nawfar Afli (Tunisia) were among a group of eight women working for the Doha-based pan-Arab channel who had filed a complaint to protest against “repeated offensive public remarks” by an official from Al Jazeera about “clothes and decency.”
The other three female presenters, Khadija Bin Qenna (Algeria), Laila Al Shaikhli and Eman Bannoura did not hand in their resignations, Saudi paper Al Hayat reported on Sunday.
The above photo of Jumana Namour looks pretty conservative to me, no cleavage or anything raunchy, but I suppose they’d prefer their anchors to hide under a veil or better yet a burqa, so they see nothing at all. Why not just have all male presenters if they feel women are too tempting for the Muslim male.
Apparently this has never happened before, and as a result Al Jazeera decided to investigate the mass exodus. The conclusion was less than satisfying, and not surprising at all.
The panel, chaired by Khalid Abudullah Al Mulla, concluded that Al Jazeera had legal rights over the looks and appearances of its presenters and that the channel was entitled to “set conditions and criteria for its employees’ physical aspects in line with the spirit, values and images it wants to disseminate,” Al Hayat said.
The probe committee dismissed the harassment complaint levelled against Ayman Jaballah, the deputy editor-in-chief, saying that his attitudes and behaviour were within his prerogatives and that he did not make any remarks that could harm the presenters’ reputation. His observations were not personal and were purely professional and related to the general appearance of the presenters, the panel said.
A similar complaint about the behaviour of the head of the make-up section was also dismissed.
“Arguments with the head of the make-up section were the result of different professional approaches and linguistic and cultural differences,” the committee said. However, it called for the drafting of a guidebook stating the presenters’ looks and clothes and recommended the appointment of a clothing adviser to offer expertise.
The panel said that all remarks on the presenters’ looks and clothes should be given in writing to avoid embarrassment.
Although no-one knows for sure, other than those involved, the extent of the harassment, one journalist claims there’s more to it than just the issue of attire. Whatever it was, it was nasty enough for five women to walk away from their high profile jobs, and you have to give them kudos for being courageous enough to stand by their convictions.