Photo: Instagram
Photo: Instagram

#ChallengeAccepted for Turkish women

The women’s empowerment hashtag has deeper roots and is a beacon of hope for women fighting femicide in Turkey.


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Last week, a new trend appeared on Instagram in the name of women’s empowerment. Women were posting black and white photos of themselves and challenged their friends to do the same using the hashtag #ChallengeAccepted.

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

But it turns out the challenge originated from something much deeper and more serious than that. It was first inspired by the increase in violence against women in Turkey. Specifically, it was in honor of Pinar Gültekin, a 27-year-old student who was brutally murdered.

The Guardian, quoting Turkish media, reported she was beaten and strangled to death by her ex-boyfriend who then burned her body and abandoned it in a garbage bin.

A vigil for Gültekin and other femicide victims was held in Istanbul’s Beşiktaş neighbourhood and three other cities across the country on Tuesday, July 21.

“We are here Pınar, we will hold them accountable,” women chanted while waving purple flags.

Gültekin’s murder ignited widespead outrage across the country and shed light on the already high rate of femicide. This comes amid efforts by the Turkish government to withdraw the “Istanbul Convention,” a set of legal guidelines that focuses on preventing domestic violence, protecting victims and prosecuting accused offenders. 

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.

The campaign group, We Will Stop Femicide, began tracking murders of women after the government admitted to not keeping records.

In a viral post on Twitter and Instagram, Twitter user named @imaann_patel attempted to explain the meaning of the original challenge.

“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 photo challenge started as a way for women to raise their voice. To stand in solidarity with the women we have lost,” she wrote. 

The original hashtags, in Turkish, translated to ‘Say No to Violence Against Women’ and ‘Enforce Istanbul Convention,’ but as the challenge crossed borders, the hashtags about violence and femicide were dropped.

Many have criticized how the challenge has warped from a campaign raising awareness of femicide to a “women’s empowerment” trend with selfies.

“I challenge everyone who has posted a black and white photo to post a screenshot of the organization of charity they’ve donated to that actually supports women,” Ali Segel, cohost of the Podcast Web Crawlers wrote on Twitter. 



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