Not just pretty photos: the UGLY truth behind the #ChallengeAccepted hashtag

Women in Turkey have been protesting against the rising number of femicide cases in the country

30 July 2020 - 13:14 By Khanyisile Ngcobo
As more women take part in the #ChallengeAccepted challenge, deeper questions on its origins have emerged. File photo.
As more women take part in the #ChallengeAccepted challenge, deeper questions on its origins have emerged. File photo.
Image: ARUN SANKAR / AFP

As more and more woman heed the call to post black and white selfies under the growing #ChallengeAccepted hashtag, important questions are being raised on how the movement started and why it was started.

Earlier this week, millions of monochrome images popped up on various social media sites under the #ChallengeAccepted and #womensupportingwomen hashtags, all aimed at “spreading positivity” and showing support for women and nominating other women to do the same.

Even celebrities such as Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, Kerry Washington, Minnie Dlamini-Jones and Basetsana Kumalo joined the fray, sharing empowering messages for women and nominating others to do the same.

But as more women jump on the bandwagon, criticism on the effectiveness of the movement emerged and questions on how and why it began making the rounds.

While a social media expert told the New York Times earlier this week the trend may have been sparked by a video of US politician Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez recently confronting sexist remarks made against her, it's now being reported that the hashtag may be linked to ongoing protests against femicide in Turkey.

According to AFP, Turkish women have been protesting against the rising femicide cases in the country, including the murder of university student Pinar Gultekin this month, and the country's decision to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention, which is the world's first binding instrument to prevent and combat violence against women, from marital rape to female genital mutilation.

They've since taken to social media to post black and white selfies to raise awareness on the issue.

Turkish philanthropist, Zeycan Rochelle, who was quoted in various articles on the issue, also explained the origins of the trend on her Instagram account.

Turkey, with its sixth most global users for Instagram, began the viral trend to bring light to femicide and how common it is for us to see black & white photos of women murdered by the senseless arrogance & uncontrolled violence of men.

“We are no strangers to waking up to a new black & white image, a new hashtag on Instagram & a solidarity of outcry of the nation banding together for the change we desperately hope to see ... This hashtag was therefore shared for women to empower women, to let each other know that our pain is the same & we are all hurting together, but MORE importantly that we know that we can be the next trending image & hashtag too, neither of us are exempt no matter how privileged we may believe we are‼️

“I think it’s beautiful how quickly this hashtag has become a global trend among women, it’s just important to know the truth behind it so we can use it for that much more power. Violence against women anywhere is a tragedy. We have to be our biggest supporters leaving the hate aside. Being a woman as is, is tough enough!”

— Additional reporting by AFP