Not a mere viral trend
ESSENCE - Ligaya Rabago-Visaya (The Freeman) - August 1, 2020 - 12:00am

Social media has become a forum for widespread creation of awareness. And yes, in just a few minutes, a relevant cause or voice will reach many people in the world. In the not-so-distant past, friends asked each other to share their photos of travels without information or clarification, while many others would prefer to do push-up exercises.

Recently, however, women challenged their fellow woman friends to share their black and white photos in social media and so many have responded. Some do it as a bandwagon, however without realizing that there is actually a profound message behind the trend.

And when I do a simple trace of the reason, the #blackandwhitechallenge goes way deeper than women empowering women. It has a long-standing scream to stop brutality against women.

In the recent past, women are killed every single day in Turkey. Forty women were murdered in July alone, almost always by close male relatives, making this year the bloodiest year for Turkish women. In granting the offenders shortened sentences, the justice system in a way legitimizes and normalizes the abuse against women. And ironically, when women have tried to protest, they've faced police brutality.

Each day, Turkish people wake up to black and white pictures of a murdered woman on their news outlets, magazines, or Instagram accounts. The black and white challenge began as a way in which women could show solidarity with the women who lost their lives.

The black and white selfie is not an exercise in vanity for it is not just a mindless challenge that women are undertaking to post their sexiest snaps. It is a very serious gesture of defiance in support of the Turkish women.

This is a solidarity demonstration to say we stand united, we are not afraid, we are fed up with the perpetrators' lack of accountability.

One ugly face of the quarantine reveals the maltreatment of women in their own homes. Helpless, they bear the agony of rearing the family amid the pandemic.

It takes a lot more effort, strength, perseverance, wisdom, knowledge, patience, and grit for us to navigate life as the world has always been skewed against women. No one knows that better than we do. It's our triumph to stand in unity together and not fall for the pit that's constantly being set for us.

The world wants us to be in that lower state of mind as they benefit from our perceived lack of self-esteem. But the truth is we are both uniquely extraordinary and brilliant. Resilient and determined, the achievement of one woman will only be of benefit to many others. It will lay the groundwork for young girls to be their own voice and not just follow what is set out for them.

For all the women who inspired and will continue to inspire others, we bow to your grace and courage that raised others when they needed it. And to those who have tried to drive women down, we know this world can be harsh and you have struggled, but we can no longer be the same women as we are claiming our rightful position in a society where justice and equality flourish. We stand by and empower each other.

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