If you are present on any kind of social media platform, especially Instagram or Twitter, chances are that you have seen black and white pictures of women with the hashtag ‘challenge accepted’.

A few days into this new ‘trend’, it’s clear how things work. A woman shares a black and white picture of herself, along with this hashtag, further nominating some other women to take up the ‘challenge’.

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#ChallengeAccepted 💜 Thank you @anaitashroffadajania, @freddy_birdy, @katrinakaif and @banij for nominating me. It takes a lot more effort, strength, perseverance, wisdom, knowledge, patience & grit for us to navigate life as the world has always been skewed against us. No one knows this better than us. Standing together in solidarity and not falling for the trap that is constantly laid down for us is our victory. A trap that makes us compare & judge one another. Competing forever in the wrong race. Truthfully see how many times we might have fallen to this trap. The world wants us to be in this lower state of mind as it benefits from our lack of self-esteem. In reality we are all unique and individually brilliant. Resilient and resolute. The success of one woman will only benefit many others. It will lay the foundation for little girls to aspire to be their true expression not what is laid out for them. To all the women who have inspired me, I bow down to your grace and strength that has lifted me when I needed it and to the ones who tried to push me down, I know this world can be harsh & that you were struggling with yourself and I love you just the same ❤️ Nominating @shraddhakapoor, @mspunvanity, @kanikakarvinkop, @alliaalrufai, @cloverwootton, @tripti_dimri & @eefa_shrof. 📸- Tarun Vishwa

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But what is the reason behind this?

Well, there are certain theories. 

Authorities from Instagram told The New York Times that the earliest photo of this wave of ‘challenge accepted’ is this one by Brazilian journalist Ana Paula Padrão, which carries the hashtag ‘women supporting women’.

Which doesn’t give any clear indication about the motive behind the hashtag or the post. However, later it was found out that the challenge has a connection with the Turkish femicide, which has lead to murders of hundreds, potentially thousands, of women across the country. 

This was pointed out by Instagram user cherbrat, who further credited American University Turkish Cultural Club for bringing this into light. 

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The gruesome murder of #pınargültekin is spawning a movement against Femicides in Turkey. Take action with us now. Please Share! #eminebulut #gülistandokunerede #kadınaşiddetehayır ———————- UPDATE: By Turkish Women, we mean TURKISH WOMXN, TURKISH WOMEN, WOMEN IN TURKEY, WOMXN IN TURKEY & honor/celebrate ALL different communities in Turkey that are also at risk at this time. We have outlined many of these groups before & will continue to accept edits from groups we have missed. With that in mind, we ask for patience & logic as we work to make this better. For example, our inclusion of Kurdish women is not an attempt to erase the legacy of Armenian/Assyrian/Arab/All Aramaic women. Please continue to hold us to do better while understanding we are literally 2 people dealing with 100,000+ notifications, most of which are spam. Please refer to our Stories & first Story Highlight for the most up-to-date clarification & info as Post Content on IG cannot be edited.

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Her post mentions that Turkey recorded 500 cases of femicide in 2019 and elaborates on the lack of judicial help in this matter. 

Also, as per the post, most murderers get away with a slap on the wrist and absolutely no charges at all.

And the idea behind sharing black and white photos was to remember women the country has lost, women whose colourless pictures people see frequently in this nightmarish scenario.

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#ChallengeAccepted but this smiling selfie is just to catch your attention to a more grave issue at hand. Swipe to read >>(Screenshots from @auturkishculturalclub story). I wasn’t aware of why the #blackandwhite hashtag started and in an effort to educate myself about the origin of this b&w trend in the last few days, I have shared what I have found. While we compliment each other, fix each other’s crowns, be the reason for each other’s smiles, overcome hurdles to support each other, empower each other in thought words & action, and most of all survive in a world where our body is objectified and our voice/thoughts are still oppressed, let’s take a quick step back to understand what this challenge is truly about. Our Turkish sisters are dying. Correction, they’re being murdered. Please please do read up (google or find accounts who are talking about the femicides in Turkey) on what is happening and how you can raise awareness and help those on the ground working towards bringing justice to these women, because while we do support each other it is also our responsibility to keep each other safe! While this challenge of posting our selfie is to uplift each other, it also helps to use this tag to raise awareness on the issue at hand! According to @auturkishculturalclub story that I’ve screenshot and shared, the #blackandwhite hashtag was originally used to create awareness about femicide in Turkey, and I don’t want to bury the original intent of this tag. So why don’t we tweak our posts a little and speak up against the outrageous acts against women across the globe along with our solo selfies?! After all, like @malala said, “Every girl/woman’s voice can change the world”, and the time to do so is NOW! I do thank all the gorgeous ladies in my life who have the most beautiful souls, for tagging me in the #womensupportingwomen #blackandwhite photo challenge. For, without them, I wouldn’t have known about what my sisters in Turkey are facing! . . . . #thetimetoactisnow #raiseyourvoice #femicideawareness #femicideisacrimeagainsthumanity #turkey #kurdistan #domesticabuse #violenceagainstwomen #hatecrime #womenempowerment #womensafety #blackandwhite #b&w #soloselfie

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Now, there are reports which say that the challenge did not, in fact, originate in Turkey. it was in the US. However, the conflicting nature of the narrative doesn’t take away from the fact that the situation there needs immediate attention and if this challenge helps in achieving that, there is absolutely no harm in it.

It has also been suggested that the powerful and iconic speech of US Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez led to a rise in numbers of these posts, which encourage women to stand tall and brave against injustice.

So, from what it appears, these posts are about perpetuating feelings of mutual admiration and respect in women, while paying a tribute to those who lost their lives to violence.

For this reason, they are often accompanied with other hashtags, but mainly: ‘Women supporting women’.

The idea here is to promote unity among women, as also pointed out by an Instagram spokesperson who, in a conversation with The New York Times, said:

The trend is still picking up with usage of the hashtag on Instagram doubling in the last day alone. Based on the posts, we’re seeing that most of the participants are posting with notes relating to strength and support for their communities.

Now, amid the growing speculation regarding the origin of this ‘challenge’, there has also been some criticism coming its way.

The topmost being, convenience. Many Twitter users have pointed out how sharing a photo doesn’t solve any real problem, many of which require utmost attention right now. 

It has also been said that the challenge, with 5.3 million posts on Instagram at this point, is clogging up social media and stopping the flow of crucial information on topics like racial injustice and other forms of discrimination. 

Finally, unlike some preconceived notions, the ‘challenge accepted’ hashtag isn’t new. It has been doing rounds on the internet for a few years now, with a different but mostly connected motive.

Earlier in 2016, it was started to raise awareness about breast cancer and has now evolved into a tool for talking about topics like bonding among women and intolerance towards injustice.