SEARCHING FOR GULISTAN #challengeaccepted
Artist: Özge Sebzeci
Video duration: 05:12
In July 2020, the hashtag #challengeaccepted became a global trend after Turkish women started posting their black and white photos to draw attention to skyrocketing rates of gender-based violence. Women’s rights organizations from Turkey started the challenge to raise awareness after the ruling party’s efforts to repeal the Council of Europe treaty titled, Istanbul Convention, groundbreaking legislation from 2011 that protects victims of domestic and gender-based violence. As the hashtags were translated into other languages, it became known around the world with many Western celebrities picking up on the trend without knowing the original intention of the challenge.
“My name is Gülistan, I went missing on 5th of January (2020). The night before I disappeared, my main suspect beat me and forced me into the car but they have not been investigated. I need your help.” Her sister Aygül Doku posted this on her Twitter account. The family insists that Gülistan did not commit suicide, but was abducted by force.
For the last 360 days (as of today), Aygül kept tweeting. She kept asking about her sister’s whereabouts on her account called “What happened to university student Gülistan?”
For Turkish women, social media has become a new battleground to fight for justice. As more women have access to the internet, cases like Gülistan’s, which had previously gone unseen, are able to stay in the public eye. For my project, I went back to Gülistan’s village and met with her family to show that although the culture of impunity against offenders still largely exists in Turkish society, more and more women are taking action to change the existing culture.
© Özge Sebzeci