You are bound to have seen the hashtag making the rounds on Instagram.
Women from all around the globe, famous politicians, actresses and entrepreneurs, women loved and appreciated among their nearest and dearest, are posting their favourite black and white photograph with the hashtags #womensupportingwomen and #challengeaccepted. There is also considerate tagging going on between women, a chain reaction that has led to date to some 4 million black and white women’s pictures using the #womensupportingwomen hashtag.
This, however, is not a promotional women’s networking event, though that would be perfectly plausible.
#womensupportingwomen seeks to raise awareness about the violence suffered by women. Although the initiative belongs to Turkish women, the violence issue is not strange to most countries of the planet, including the countries of the Western world.
The campaign aims to raise awareness against femicides in Turkey and show women that one day their own photos could be published in a black and white newspaper page, declaring them dead, notes India based poet and activist NabiyaKhan.
Turkey is one of the top countries when it comes to femicides. Only in 2019 almost 500 femicides were recorded. Sadly, many more remain unclassified as such.
In many countries, women are actively discouraged by the community to hide their “guilt” when they are attacked or maltreated as it is considered to be their fault that they are not “obedient” enough.
There are reports that the Turkish government is trying to abolish certain aspects of the decisions taken by The Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, which took effect in 2014.
It claims that “Violence against women is a form of gender-based violence that is committed against women because they are women. It is the obligation of the state to fully address it in all its forms and to take measures to prevent violence against women, protect its victims and prosecute the perpetrators”.
The Polish government is said to follow on the Turkish government steps.
On July 14th 2020, GREVIO (Group of Experts on Action against Violence against Women and Domestic Violence) joined UN and regional experts on violence against women and women’s rights in their call for urgent action to end the pandemic of gender-based violence. “As countries imposed lockdowns to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, the world saw “dramatic increases in cases of domestic violence, including violence by intimate partners, sexual violence and femicide,” the experts making up the End Discrimination and Violence against Women Platform said in a joint statement. “Urgent steps must be taken to combat this pandemic within a pandemic.”
The last straw for Turkish women was the brutal killing of Pinar Gültekin, a 27-year-old university student. Pinar had been missing after leaving her flat on July 16th. She was found on July 21st, murdered by a 37-year-old man, named Cemal Metin Avcı, a former boyfriend, who wanted to rekindle their relationship, although he is now a married father of one. Pinar refused his advances. She was beaten and struggled. He tried to get rid of her body, placing it and burning it in an oil drum and hid it in a wooded area.
In total 40 women have been murdered in Turkey only in the month of July 2020.
On the other side of the Atlantic, on July 23, the memorable speech of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on the House floor with regard to the incident on the Capitol steps, made clear that women face discriminatory challenges even when they get up as high as possible on the manmade ladder. The first-term Democrat from New York was verbally assaulted by Ted Yoho, a veteran Republican from Florida, for her public statements that poverty and unemployment are root causes of the recent spike in crime rates in New York.
From women in Turkey to women in the USA the cause of women needs to be immediately and seriously addressed.
So, keep posting those black and white photos. Women’s rights are human rights. Women’s struggle is a struggle for humanity.