A new Instagram trend has seen millions of us regular folk and countless celebrities, including Khloe Kardashian, Kelly Rowland and Jennifer Aniston, upload a black and white photograph of themselves and hashtag it with either #ChallengeAccepted or #WomenSupportingWomen. It's possible that you too may have been nominated to share a picture by a friend, with a message about encouraging women to uplift other women – which is absolutely fantastic. But activists have since pointed out that this is not the reason the Women Supporting Women or Challenge Accepted campaign started.
Like with any social media trend, it's important to know the origin and in this case, it's thought to be in relation to raising awareness against violence against women in Turkey (and opposing the lenient sentences given to men afterwards).
An account for The American University Turkish Cultural Club posted an explainer on their stories (which has been reposted by author and journalist Poorna Bell), saying: "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 story continued on to say, "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 with a black and white filter on top."
"I see many of my non-Turkish friends sharing black and white photos of themselves as a "challenge" but not knowing the reason or the origin of the challenge. So here is my attempt to educate the little following I have... Turkey is one of the top countries when it comes to femicides [an intentional killing based on gender]. Just [in] 2019 we have had almost 500 RECORDED femicides. Sadly many remain unrecorded and we have no real number as to how many women are murdered here every year. Just this week, we have had several women murdered."
Other Turks have spoken out about the viral campaign getting lost in translation, with Zeycan Rochelle Yildirim (a philanthropist based in Istanbul) also seeking to educate others, by sharing a black and white photo of herself:
"The true reason behind this viral trend is for more than just vanity. Turkey, with its 6th most global users for Instagram, began the viral trend to bring light to Femicide and how common it is for us to see black & white photos of women murdered by the senseless arrogance & uncontrolled violence of men. We're no strangers to waking up to a new black & white image, a new hashtag on Instagram & a solidarity of outcry of the nation banding together for the change we desperately hope to see.
"This hashtag was therefore shared for women to empower women, to let each other know that our pain is the same & we are all hurting together, but MORE importantly that we know that we can be the next trending image & hashtag too, neither of us are exempt no matter how privileged we may believe we are. I think it’s beautiful how quickly this hashtag has become a global trend amongst women, it’s just important to know the truth behind it so we can use it for that much more power."
When posting her own contribution, Jennifer Aniston admitted that she (like many others) wasn't entirely sure of the origin of #ChallengeAccepted, but liked the messaging behind it and used her post as an opportunity to encourage people to vote in the upcoming election.
"Thank you to all the brilliant and beautiful women in my life who sent the most uplifting messages today. Truth be told, I don’t really understand this #challengeaccepted thing…but who doesn't love good reason to support women! Soooo…. challenge accepted! And while I have you here, maybe the best way we can support other women is to REGISTER TO VOTE for the issues that affect women."
So, now you know. If you're nominated to join in with the challenge, you might like to consider using it as an opportunity to help spread information about the violence faced by Turkish women on a daily basis (often under the guise of being an "honour killing"), as well as standing in solidarity with women the world over.
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