When I received messages on being chosen the black and white picture for the #womenempoweringwomen campaign by women I admire and love, I was flattered. Even though I wasn’t convinced of selfies being the measure or proof of one’s solidarity because it runs much deeper in real life, I decided to play along. It seemed like a harmless, fun campaign even though I’m wary of most social media challenges of late. So, I posted a black and white picture on Instagram.
Then, I learned the significance of this challenge— the increasing femicide cases on Turkish women. The last straw was the premeditated murder of Pinar Gültekin, a 27-yr-old Turkish student, allegedly by her ex-boyfriend. Pinar’s brutal murder mobilized hundreds of Turkish women to protest violence against women perpetrated by men. That’s how this challenge was born.
Domestic violence had surged during the pandemic globally, and more so, in Turkey. In June alone this year, at least 27 women were killed in the country, according to We will Stop Femicide Platform. The ‘We will Stop Femicide’ group took up reporting the killings of women after the Turkish government stopped counting them in 2009,
There were sharp criticisms that the noble purpose of the black and white challenge, which started in Turkey, was diluted when it reached the States. American celebrities and Instagram users didn’t reference Turkey in their captions for the challenge. They captioned their selfies with the hashtag #WomenSupportingWomen and #ChallengeAccepted along with supportive messages for the women who nominated them.
Is the Feminist Selfie Challenge in support of Turkish women selective or inclusive?
Suddenly, the colour of the challenge changed. It made me think as I soaked in the gravity of the situation.
Why are only women involved in such an important global campaign?
Aren’t women’s rights a human rights issue?
Isn’t feminism against patriarchy, and not against men?
Whatever happened to the men who supported the HeForShe campaign?
Where is the LGBT community in this campaign?
Why is the feminist Black and White campaign selective and not inclusive?
Why is there a stark black and white divide?
I deleted the black and white selfie that I posted on Instagram a few days ago, thanking all who tagged me and deemed me worthy of their love and support. It was against my personal conviction to be part of a feminist challenge that was selective when it ought to be inclusive.
Whether it was the Nirbhaya or Priyanka Reddy rape cases in India, even though the perpetrators of these crimes were men, there was no divide among those seeking justice for a crime.
We need everyone to be supporting Turkish women and speaking out against femicide in Turkey.
There’s another twist in the tale now.
The latest news is that Instagram’s ChallengeAccepted trend did not originate in Turkey and was not created as an awareness campaign for violence against their women.
According to Instagram, the challenge for women to share their black-and-white photos as support for other women started in Brazil by journalist Ana Paula Padrão. The aim of the challenge was women’s empowerment all along.
An Instagram spokesperson told CNN that the challenge is not connected to the femicide in Turkey at all. Melek Önder of ‘We Will Stop Femicide’ group confirmed to CNN that the trend originated in Brazil, not Turkey.
News reports of the Turkish government’s possible withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention (the Council of Europe’s human rights treaty for the prevention of domestic violence against women) sparked mass protests in the country. Turkish Instagrammers amplified the rebellion online using the hashtag #İstanbulSözleşmesiYaşatır.