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09.05 1 Aug 2020


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Social media was flooded this week with women sharing black and white images of themselves along with the 'challenge accepted' hashtag.

The 'women supporting women' trend was shared by millions of people on Instagram.

However, according to a Turkish philanthropist, the original aim of the campaign to draw attention to femicide in Turkey may have been "lost along the way".

Speaking on Newstalk Breakfast, Zeycan Rochelle detailed the story of Pinar Gültekin, whose death brought the issue of murder against women to the fore once again in Turkey.

The 27-year-old university student was allegedly murdered by an ex-boyfriend last month.

The discovery of Ms Gültekin's body led to an outpouring of calls on social media in Turkey for people to 'learn how to love women' along with a black and white image.

Shortly after, women began sharing their own black and white pictures along with hashtags which translate as 'the Istanbul Convention saves lives' and 'say no to violence against women'.

Regarding Ms Gültekin's story, Ms Rochelle said: "I do believe it got lost along the way.

"As the hashtags went viral, I believe that other women wanted to say 'challenge accepted' and 'women empowering women' but because they don't understand Turkish they dropped the hashtags and when you drop the hashtags the whole meaning is lost."

In 2019, 474 women were reported to be killed in Turkey but Ms Rochelle said the figure may be higher due to the fact that femicide is underreported.

She said: "Every day there is at least one death which is scary."

Turkey is a signatory to the Istanbul Convention which protects against gender-based violence but according to Ms Rochelle, this rule of law needs to be further enforced in Turkey.

She said: "Femicide is a huge issue, a lot of women are dying simply for wanting to divorce their husband or rejecting men.

"When that happens, a woman is dead, a man goes into court and if he has on a suit and tie, they know that he's probably a good man and they think he should be given a second chance.

"What happens is, we place the death of a woman to be less important than a man needing a second chance because he lost himself in a moment of anger.

Ms Rochelle says a lot of women come forward in Turkey who are at risk of violence but "unfortunately, the police say they can't do anything unless something happens".

She added: "That's a very scary part because there have been so many instances where these women have been killed that have raised a police report."

She said that while some viral hashtags on social media can see people posting for the sake of it, this campaign has benefited many organisations which seek to help women at risk.

Ms Rochelle said: "What I have seen specifically from this campaign is that so many people have donated to organisations in Turkey to help these women.

"I think people are aware that their selfie isn't just enough, they've been signing petitions, they've been donating and I think that's great media coverage that Turkey itself needs because these voices were drowned out for so long."

Main image: A demonstration organized by We Will Stop Femicide Platform in Ankara, Turkey on July 21, 2020. Photo: Tunahan Turhan / INA Photo Agency / Sipa USA

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