If you are a regular on Instagram, you might have noticed your feed overrun by flattering black-and-white selfies of women, in the past week. The usage of hashtags such as #challengeaccepted’ or #womensupportingwomen has skyrocketed. Famous as well as non-famous women are populating them on Social Media.

While this “challenge” points us towards women empowerment, most are uncertain as to where and why it started. Its original purpose remains obscure.

The striking, monochrome imagery has gone viral with its tag-you’re-it nature. Each woman nominates one, or several others to carry on the thread. Ladies only, of course! The original context is lost amongst the gorgeous images. It became a light-hearted and directionless display of female solidarity.

While some said they would take every opportunity to support fellow women, others were not so indifferent while hopping onto the bandwagon. There were many questions that came to the forefront.

What is the Women Supporting Women challenge?

Upon digging deeper, we find that the black-and-white photo trend accompanied by the #challengeaccepted originated in the year 2016 as a means to spread awareness about cancer.

Following that, it mainly stood for positivity. And now, in the 2020 iteration, the resurgence of the same is traced back to Turkey and its women. This modish trend has taken social media by storm, what with the filtered portraits circulating like chainmail. But there’s a reason behind this.

Since the Instagram algorithm was already familiar with the hashtag, it enabled the posts to gain traction much faster and boost visibility.

But, what is happening in turkey in relation to #challengeaccepted?

Turkish women started this challenge in the hope to shine some light on the atrocious human rights crisis and murders of women in their country. Femicide or ‘honour killings’ are a longstanding and worsening issue and this needed to be in the spotlight.

Sparks of outrage flew when the murder of a 27-year old Turkish student, at the hands of her ex-boyfriend came to light. Those mentioned above beat her and strangled her to death and then proceeded to torch her corpse in a garbage can and cover it with concrete.

The President’s condolences rang hollow among the masses as the government is doing less to ensure the protection of its women, and more to revoke the Istanbul Convention, which aims to promote gender equality and tackle violence against women. They believe it to be a bomb that destroys the Turkish family structure, encouraging divorce, and immoral lifestyles.

With their rights snatched away, Turkish women took to social media to project their horror and outrage. The headshots are a reference to the black-and-white photographs of female murder victims that routinely appear in their newspapers. The benign selfie says little but speaks volumes.

While the criticism for this trend arrived on cue, one must understand not to ridicule the efforts people make to get their struggles heard. In today’s fast-paced environment, it is no secret that social media runs the world. A minuscule challenge like this started god-knows-where still spiked your interest and pushed you to seek out more information, as it did mine. And that itself is a victory for the women of Turkey because it gets their strike one step closer to being a movement, and not just a moment.

And, finally!

Many women and men alike are taking up the protest and solidarity of Turkish women, around the globe. All to ensure the poignant message does not get lost in translation. Because what’s not a challenge, is to support the women around you. With donations and petitions in place, girl power is at its best. That’s how it’s done, ladies!

– Nitya Babbr

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