Students react to ‘Challenge Accepted’ trend aiming to raise Turkish femicides awareness

By Jasmine Smith | @jazziecake77

During the past month, a popular social media trend using the #ChallengeAccepted hashtag flooded home feeds with black-and-white photos of women around the world. These posts often encouraged female empowerment, with users nominating other women to participate.

Students at Cal Poly Pomona shared their reactions to the trend and evaluated its effectiveness.

“For women, I think this trend was such a great way to show love toward one another and to celebrate strength as women altogether,” said Eunice Choi, a third-year international business and marketing student.

With celebrities like Khloe Kardashian, Jennifer Lopez and Kerry Washington participating in the challenge, the social media trend quickly snowballed into a unified movement.

Recently, however, the #ChallengeAccepted trend began raising awareness of a social justice issue as Turkish feminists claimed that the black-and-white images were intended to recognize femicide in Turkey. Women across the globe are now joining the effort in demanding greater protection for those being affected by gender-based violence by taking action on social media platforms.

Although tagging friends and sharing related posts contribute to raising awareness of the heinous events taking place in Turkey, the usage of hashtags has played a key role in spreading the message like wildfire.

“Unfortunately, right now, I think we need a hashtag for people to listen,” said Issa Pena, a social justice leader at CPP’s Womxn’s Resource Center. “If it’s not catchy or something you can remember, then most likely it’ll leave your mind.”

Although the social media trend has been received positively for raising awareness of important issues, it has received some backlash as well. Some users view the trend as an excuse for women to post flattering images of themselves and do not believe that it is effective in fighting against femicides that are happening in Turkey today.

“Personally, I think that the trend is a form of slacktivism because it only showed that people were involved,” said Celene Yang, a fourth-year biology student. “I believe that if you’re going to post one of these, it will be best to have a longer caption than just ‘challenge accepted’ and a hashtag.”

Maria Cerce, coordinator of the Womxn’s Resource Center, shared a different opinion as she explained that it would be more effective to include a specific hashtag or caption that gears focus on the violence in Turkey. “I think there needed to be a hashtag, or we wouldn’t know about the femicide,” Cerce said.

The recent surge of activism was triggered when 27-year-old Pinar Gültekin was murdered by her ex-boyfriend Cemal Metin Avci. Over the past 16 years, there has been a 471% increase in femicides in Turkey, according to the Hurriyet Daily News. Just last year, the country reported 474 murdered women killed by their male partners and family members. The number, however, continues to grow.

Nonetheless, due to the #ChallengeAccepted trend, more people are now aware of the violence and injustice occurring in the foreign country.

Turkey, however, is currently considering withdrawing from the Istanbul Convention, a European convention established by Turkish officials in 2012 to prevent domestic violence against women. If Turkey decides to withdraw from the convention, millions of women in the country are expected to suffer without any governmental support.

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