Malaysian women firmly against femicide


Women's black-and-white photos flood Instagram in support of fighting against femicide.

Have you noticed black and white photos of women (and a handful of men) have suddently been flooding your Instagram feed of late? It's the latest social media "challenge", apparently with the photos accompanied just by the caption "Challenge Accepted" and hashtags #womensupportingwomen and/or #womenempowerment.

While it's great to see millions of women in support of other women (a search on Instagram reveals over 8million posts with the #womensupportingwomen hashtag) the origins and purpose of this challenge seems to have gotten lost somewhere along the line.

The recent challenge (the original black and white photo challenge apparently started in 2016 to raise awareness on cancer) started in Turkey where photos of murdered women are often printed in black and white in newspapers. Turkey has among the highest femicide rates in the world and the challenge was mooted after the recent death of a 27-year-old Turkish university student, Pınar Gültekin (who went missing on July 16), allegedly murdered by her ex-boyfriend.

The aim of the challenge was to get Turkish women to stand together to lobby for their government to take gender-based violence seriously.

Why post a black and white photo? To highlight how, one day, any one of these women too could appear in the newspaper too if no action is taken to combat gender-based violence.

Femicide is a sex-based hate crime whereby females, regardless of their age, are intentionally killed just because they are females.

Femicide is always preceded by physical, verbal, emotional and psychological violence. Photo: 123rf.comFemicide is always preceded by physical, verbal, emotional and psychological violence. Photo: 123rf.com

A new hashtag (#istanbulconventionsaveslives) was recently introduced to help guide the movement back to its roots.

The wave of awareness empowerment has reached Malaysian women as well. They, too, are standing firm with this movement by magnifying the voices of Turkish women.

Communications strategist of Mad Hat Asia, Rengeeta Rendava said that though this movement was borne out of a horrific incident, it has shed light on an issue that is rampant not just in Turkey. She shared that she took part in the challenge as to raise awareness on the plight of other women.

Even though the origin of the movement may have gotten lost along the way, Rengeeta said it still had an impact as it encouraged many women to find out more about the movement.

“If the movement is widespread enough to create curiosity and conversations, that to me is progress in shedding light on the silenced, the ignored as well as injustices, ” she added.

Sharing similar sentiments with Rengeeta, is Kim a marketer who hopes that this movement does not just help Turkish women’s voices be heard but to influence those in power to protect these women from further abuse.

“I felt very angry that they were unprotected and were so unsafe in their own country.

“No woman, or anyone for that matter, should fear for their life, ” she said.

Artist and fine art instructor Ratna Rashidi was surprised and bewildered when she realised that such occurrences are still happening in 2020.

“I don’t understand why women are being killed at this day and age, ” the 50 year-old said.

As someone with a large following on social media, former radio & television host turned fitness entrepreneur and co-founder of Motion Lab, Maggy Wang wants to further amplify the message of this movement and to open a discussion with others on her platform.

To her, it is important to raise awareness about this issue as she feels that the act of killing does not happen overnight but is borne out of gender inequality.

“Unfortunately, Turkish women live in a community where their voices are taken away from them, ” she said, adding that silencing someone is more than just shutting them up but it is taking away their privilege and opportunity to be heard, believed and understood.

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