• Clodagh Meaney

#WomenSupportingWomen: The real meaning behind the viral Instagram challenge

The trend goes deeper than celebrities propping up their fellow successful friends.

Trigger warning: Femicide

Over the last number of days, you may have noticed your Instagram feed flooded with users posting selfies with black and white filters and the hashtag #WomenSupportingWomen.

So far almost 8 million users have used the hashtag in a bid to empower themselves and show support for other women.

Most captions thank the person that has nominated them, accompanied by a message of empowerment about women standing together.

In the last few days the trend has sparked criticism as the hashtag has grown into a trend that some have deemed narcissistic, veering far away from the original sentiment behind it.

According to the American University Turkish Cultural Club, the trend originated among women in Turkey to stand in solidarity with women killed by femicide.

So far this July over 40 women have been murdered in the Middle-Eastern country, with the majority of those killed by a close male relative.

Taking to Instagram to clarify how the hashtag began, the AUTCC said that they have seen a number of non-Turkish people sharing photos of themselves without knowing the reason behind, or the origin of the challenge.

"Turkey is one of the top countries when it comes to femicides," they said.

"Just on 2019 we have had almost 500 recorded femicides. Sadly many of them remain unrecorded and we have no real number as to how many women are murdered here every year."

"Just this week, we have had several women murdered."

According to a 2009 report, 42 percent of Turkish women aged between 15–60 had suffered some physical or sexual violence by their husbands or partners.

They further said that their government are trying to abolish certain aspects of Istanbul Convention which protects women's human rights treaty.

"The government and our justice system does nothing to stop these crimes. Most often the murderers barely get a slap on the wrist or no charges at all."

Explaining the meaning of the picture challenge, they said that the monochrome pictures represent the murdered women featured in newspapers; a way to highlight that every woman is at risk of becoming a victim of femicide in Turkey.

"Turkish people wake every day to see a black and white photo of a woman who has been murdered on their Instagram feed, on their newspapers and on their TV screens."

"The black and white photo challenge started as a way for women to raise their voice. To stand in solidarity with the women we have lost," they explained.

"To show that one day, it could be their picture that is plastered across news outlets with a black and white filter on top."

The movement began when the remains of 27-year-old student Pınar Gültekin were discovered 5 days after she went missing on July 16th.

She was beaten and strangled to death before her remains were burned in a bin and covered in concrete by her ex-boyfriend 32-year-old Cemal Metin Avci.

Last week, a vigil for Pınar and other victims of femicide was held in Istanbul and across the country where women chanted: "We are here Pınar, we will hold them accountable," while waving purple flags.

In Ireland, femicide statistics show that 50 percent of women are murdered by a partner or an ex partner.

In cases where a woman is murdered by a male relative, 80 percent of the time the perpetrator is a son.

© 2020 by EMPWR

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