CW: This article talks about femicide and domestic violence
‘Challenge Accepted’ is the newest trend sweeping Instagram, with over 3 million women around the world posting black and white selfies with a ‘#ChallengeAccepted’ caption so far. But this trend is more than simply an opportunity to post a stylist snap – it’s raising awareness of Turkey’s alarmingly high rate of femicide.
The Challenge started out in July with Ana Paula Padrão, a Brazilian journalist, when she posted a black and white selfie with the caption ‘#WomenSupportingWomen’, with the intention of promoting female empowerment. The focus first switched to Turkey when Turkish influencers began captioning their posts with ‘#İstanbulSözleşmesiYaşatır’, referring to the Istanbul Convention, a European anti-domestic violence treaty which Turkey is considering withdrawing from, despite being the first country to sign it.
Eventually the challenge, which has been accepted by celebs such as Paris Hilton, Reese Witherspoon and Khloe Kardashian, honed in on standing in solidarity with Turkish victims of femicide in recent years, of which there are an alarming number. Concerns about domestic violence and murder of women have accelerated during the Coronavirus pandemic, with at least 27 women being killed in the country during June alone, according to We Will Stop Femicide Platform.
In a controversial move in 2009, the Turkish government stopped counting the deaths of women as a result of domestic violence, so We Will Stop Femicide took over documentation of the cases based on news reports and emails from victims’ family members. According to the organisation, more than 2600 women have died due to gender-related murder, mainly at the hands of their partners, since 2010.
The monochromatic filter of the challenge is suitable to raise awareness for the Turkish issue as victims of femicide are often portrayed through black and white photographs in the country. Writer Tariro Mzezewa has said that Turkish women adopted the trend ‘as a response to them being frustrated over always seeing black-and-white photos of women who have been killed.’
Many have accused the trend of being yet another chance for celebrities to jump on a performative bandwagon to make themselves look good on social media without taking any transformative action to improve circumstances for the women in real life. There’s a strong possibility that this is the case for many accepting the challenge, as not everyone who posts for it even seems to know the meaning behind the challenge.
Unlike the #BlackoutTuesday social media trend from June which saw people posting black squares aiming to raise awareness of Black Lives Matter, this challenge caters to instagrammers’ vanity, as we all know black and white pictures are almost always more flattering than coloured ones. It does seem odd that sharing a flashy selfie can be deemed activism rather than yet another ego-boost, but the main thing to focus on is that the challenge is gaining publicity for an issue which most of us never knew about until now, and will hopefully bring about real change if people can look beyond their phone screens for long enough.