What is 'Women Supporting Women' challenge? 'Privileged' celebs slammed for ignoring campaign's Turkish origin

While there have been many black and white photo challenges on Instagram over the years, this particular iteration started out as a campaign to raise awareness about the killing of women in Turkey


                            What is 'Women Supporting Women' challenge? 'Privileged' celebs slammed for ignoring campaign's Turkish origin
(Getty Images)

If you've been on Instagram in the last couple of weeks, you've probably seen women posting black and white pictures with the tags #challengeaccepted and #womensupportingwomen. You may have been nominated for the challenge and shared your own photos as well but here's the real story behind the challenge that most people don't seem to know.

While there have been many black and white photo challenges on Instagram over the years, this particular iteration started out as an awareness campaign for what's happening to women in Turkey. In 2019 alone, over 400 women were reportedly killed in gender-based violence and the government of Turkey has been accused of willful inaction against rampant femicide.

Things came to a head with the killing of 27-year-old student Pinar Gültekin at the hands of her former boyfriend, igniting the challenge that plays on the fact that murdered women appear in black and white photos in news reports. Thus began the challenge which has now morphed into a women empowerment campaign that does not acknowledge the struggle of Turkish women. Many celebrities including Victoria Beckham, Jennifer Garner, and Eva Longoria have taken part in the exercise without crediting the origins of the campaign, and people on various social media platforms are finally starting to notice.

One Twitter user wrote, "The 'Challenge accepted' challenge is about standing in solidarity with Turkish women. Turkey is one of the top countries when it comes to femicides, w/2020 being the deadliest to date. Please read, research, ask questions, educate yourself..."

"This women supporting women insta 'challenge' doesn’t sit well w me? Like Turkish women are literally dying on the daily and there's a bunch of middle-aged white American women posting selfies soaked in so much privilege they don’t even know the reason for the challenge...," another user tweeted.

The challenge has even been reported by certain media outlets without mention of the Turkish movement, attracting condemnation from a large section of the Internet. "Why would you continue to belittle the movement in Turkey? You are privileged enough to live in a country that has laws protecting women against violence. You are in no position to undermine a movement fighting against femicide," one particularly irate user wrote.

Another user tweeted, "Even if the hashtag has been used differently in the past, right now it is bringing awareness to femicide in Turkey and allowing Turkish women to speak out. Instead of discrediting this entire movement, why don’t you use your privilege and platform to uplift their voices?"

This whole controversy comes at a time when protests are mounting against the Turkish government and their plans to back out of the Istanbul Convention, a Council of Europe convention that protects the rights of women. Ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) deputy chair Numan Kurtulmuş said on July 2 that the convention, officially titled the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence, is "wrong".

“I am saying as a person, who has read the Istanbul Convention repeatedly, has also read this in English and worked on it. The signing of the Istanbul Convention was really wrong,” he explained in a televised interview.

“There are two issues in this convention which we do not approve of. First is the gender issue and the other is sexual orientation issue. There are also other issues but these two have been the concepts which have played into the hands of LGBT and marginal elements. They have taken refuge behind these concepts,” Kurtulmuş said adding that, "The concept of ‘struggling with subjects such as so-called honor, tradition, and customs is the responsibility of the government' is included in the treaty. These are never acceptable issues."

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