What #ChallengeAccepted Has to Do with Turkey – And Femicide

The black-and-white photo challenge was initially inspired by the heightened violence against women in Turkey.

Updated29 Jul 2020, 06:06 AM IST
Gender
2 min read

Over the last 48 hours, each of our Instagram timelines have been painted black-and-white by women posting their selfies, accompanied with #ChallengeAccepted and #WomenSupportingWomen.

According to Instagram spokesperson, the hashtags are “meant to celebrate strength, spread love, and remind all women that supporting each other is everything”.

But turns out, the campaign is much more than that. The black-and-white photo challenge was initially inspired by the heightened violence against women in Turkey and in particular, the brutal murder of a 27-year-old student named Pinar Gültekin.

What Is Happening In Turkey

Gültekin was murdered by her ex-boyfriend, earlier in July, sparking widespread outrage across the country and throwing light on the country's high femicide rate. This comes amid the Turkish government's efforts to withdraw 'Istanbul Convention' – a legislation that sought to protect women from gender-based violence.

The Guardian, quoting Turkish media said that she was was beaten and then strangled to death by her former partner, who then burned her body, dumped it in a garbage bin and covered it in concrete. The 32-year-old has been detained and is facing murder charges.

In 2019, 474 women were killed in the country – the highest number recorded in the decade. This is a whopping 200% increase since 237 women were murdered in 2013.

According to a 2009 study on prevention strategies, 42% of Turkish women aged between 15-60 had suffered some physical or sexual violence by their partners.

Until June 2020, an estimated 146 Turkish women have been murdered. The lockdown, induced by the coronavirus pandemic, is expected to further increase these numbers.

How Is The Challenge Related to Turkey

In a viral post on Twitter and Instagram, Turkish Twitter user named @imaann_patel attempted to explain the meaning of the original challenge. She said that Turkish women started the challenge to raise their voice against violence against women – to show that they too can be a victim.

“Turkey is one of the top countries when it comes to femicides. Most often the murderers barely get a slap on a wrist or no charges at all… Our government is trying to abolish certain aspects of [the] Istanbul Convention which is a human rights treaty that protects women against domestic violence… Turkish people wake up every day to see a black and white photo of a woman who has been murdered on their Instagram feed, on their newspapers, on their TV screens. The black and white photo challenge started as a way for women to raise their voice. To stand in solidarity with the women we have lost. To show that one day, it could be their picture that is plastered across news outlets.” 
Imaann Patel

The New York Times’ travel reporter Tariro Mzezewa tweeted that the Turkish hashtags about domestic violence and femicide were dropped as the challenge went viral and crossed borders.

The original hashtags, in Turkish, translated to ‘Say No to Violence Against Women’ and ‘Enforce Istanbul Convention’.

Instagram said that the earliest post with the hashtag was traced back to Brazilian journalist Ana Paula Padrão, who posted along the lines almost a week ago.

(With inputs from The Guardian, The New York Times)

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Published: 29 Jul 2020, 05:44 AM IST
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