#ChallengeAccepted: The global trend raising awareness of Turkish femicide

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A viral challenge has taken social media by storm as Instagram and Facebook feeds are filled with powerful women encouraging other women to post photos of themselves.

The “challenge accepted” trend calls on women to share black-and-white pictures of themselves to show support of women. As of Wednesday morning, there are more than 5.5 million posts on Instagram using the hashtag, including pictures from celebrities like Khloe Kardashian, Gabrielle Union, and Vanessa Bryant. 

However, the trend has led to internet-wide confusion and clashing narratives over the challenge’s true origins. 

The challenge was popularised at the same time as a similar black-and-white photo trend in Turkey, as many protest the high rate of femicides, or murders of women, in the country.

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❤️Pınar Gültekin ❤️ The incident that triggered the latest viral, black and white photo challenge, is the murder of Pinar Gutelkin, a 27-year-old woman, who was allegedly killed by her jealous ex-boyfriend, who first strangled and then tried to burn her. The hashtags #kadınaşiddetehayır and #istanbulsözleşmesiyaşatır were used by Turkish women as part of the challenge, but they were dropped as the trend became more westernized. ▫️▫️▫️▫️▫️▫️▫️▫️▫️▫️▫️▫️ FOR THOSE WHO’D LIKE MORE INFO:❤️ ▫️▫️▫️▫️▫️▫️▫️▫️▫️▫️▫️▫️ ”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…(Unknown Twitter User).” ▫️▫️▫️▫️▫️▫️▫️▫️▫️▫️▫️▫️ 🔹In 2019, 474 women were murdered, mostly by partners and relatives, the highest rate in a decade, according to The Guardian. In Turkey, between 2010 and 2017, in which at least 1,964 women were killed (balcanicaucaso.org, 2018). (Ceyda Ulukaya is a journalist and the creator of the first map of femicides in Turkey that shows these numbers). ▫️▫️▫️▫️▫️▫️▫️▫️▫️▫️▫️▫️ 🔹What is femicide?Femicide is the term used for the masses of women who are abused and murdered at the hands of their partners, according to the World Health Organization. ▫️▫️▫️▫️▫️▫️▫️▫️▫️▫️▫️▫️ 🔹 “But perhaps the biggest contributor to violence against women is that the majority of male culprits do not face serious sentences for their crimes. In 2016, the Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim attempted to pass a bill that would pardon men convicted of sex with underage girls if they married them. The uprising that followed was massive. Those opposed said it ‘legitimized statutory rape and encouraged the practice of child brides.’ The bill was ultimately scrapped but is a good indicator of where Turkish ideals may lie (Jackie Trujillo, New York Minute, 2020).” ▫️▫️▫️▫️▫️▫️▫️▫️▫️▫️▫️▫️ #pınargültekin #ChallengeAccepted #kadınaşiddetehayır #StopViolenceAgainstWomen #istanbulsözleşmesiyaşatır ▫️▫️▫️▫️▫️▫️▫️▫️▫️▫️▫️▫️

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Last week, the remains of 27-year-old student Pınar Gültekin were found in Turkey, after she was allegedly beaten and strangled to death by a former partner. Gültekin’s killing sparked outrage throughout the nation and on social-media. The news of Gültekin’s murder comes after the rate of femicides has increased in recent years, according to the Guardian

While a representative for the Council of Europe told Insider that the they have no knowledge of the Instagram challenge being connected to their work, they said the posts on social media do help support the missions of the convention. 

Zeycan Rochelle Yildirim, who works in education development for a private foundation and lives in Istanbul, told Insider she noticed the black-and-white photos circulating just one day after the trend had popularised in her own community with two Turkish hashtags, #ChallengeAccepted and #WomenSupportingWomen.

“Initially I was confused,” she said of seeing Americans participate in the challenge without a connection to the Turkish movement. “I felt a little bit sad that the message was being lost.”

Yildirim said that the idea of sharing a black-and-white picture to show support for Turkish women made sense because when women are killed in femicides, it’s often black-and-white photos of the victim that are shared on social-media. 

Regardless of the challenge’s true origins — and the intentions of international participants — Yildirim said she’s glad more people are learning about the Istanbul Convention. “I think if we have enough pressure from international media, maybe we can get more justice for women who are abused in these cases,” she said

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