Dainik Bhaskar leads campaign against female feticide
by Sanjeev Kotnala
19 July 2012
Organised movement against aborting female fetuses includes editorials, public rallies, Bollywood endorsements, and a petition signed by half a million residents.
More than 100 million women are missing because their parents wanted a son.
Female feticide is the act of aborting healthy female fetuses after 18 weeks (or more) of gestation. It is the penalty they pay for being females. These are not abortions based on health or economic grounds — the same fetus would’ve been carried to term had it been a male.
Despite an existing law that clearly bans and criminalises sex identification and gender-biased abortion, as many as half a million female fetuses are aborted each year in India. Gender discrimination is so entrenched that it begins even before a girl child is born.
India has a history of a skewed female sex ratio. But what the country is witnessing today is the systematic extermination of the female child. Ultrasound machines are still used for fetus gender identification: clinics offering ultrasound scanning have mushroomed throughout the country, cashing in on the societal pressure for a male child and the demand for gender identification. Doctors and parents alike rampantly violate the law.
Dainik Bhaskar Group undertook a month-long educational and participatory drive against female feticide and the abandoning of girl children at birth.
The efforts became a full-fledged movement, “Beti bachao muhim” (“Save the girl child”) in the states of Punjab and Haryana, where the practice is rampant. Its goal was to create enhanced awareness of this social menace and to educate the masses through a series of editorial articles and public rallies. It had a much-needed social impact that was further fueled by activities on the ground.
Recognising the need for an aggressive approach, Dainik Bhaskar created a plan that targeted opinionated decision makers as well as readers in 40 towns across Punjab and Haryana, as well as Chandigarh.It was designed to ensure participation and interactivity in addition to generating visibility.
Because readers look up to social personalities, Dainik Bhaskar conducted focus group discussions with eminent personalities of the regions. The content of those discussions became continuous editorial coverage for the 23-day period. In addition to publishing interviews with local social and political influencers, Dainik Bhaskar gained support for the campaign from 23 influencers, including Bollywood (Indian film industry) celebrities such as Vidiya Balan, Bipasha Basu, Shilpa Shetty, Kiran Kher, Preity Zinta, Juhi Chawla, Divya Dutta, Shabana Ajmi, Lara Dutta, and Aishwarya Rai.
Print ad campaigns, outdoor, social media campaigns, and on-the-ground activities enhanced our interactive approach and amplified the output. In the signature campaign on March 20, 2012, 400,000 people signed an oath against this social menace. The climax of the campaign was a candle vigil held simultaneously across 40 towns on March 22, 2012. The campaign culminated with a “Beti bachao” (“Save girls”) on March 23, 2012
Dainik Bhaskar’s Beti Bachao campaign garnered the participation of more than 500,000 people in Chandigarh, Punjab, and Haryana.
Author/Contact: Sanjeev Kotnala is vice president/head of MarCom at the Dainik Bhaskar Group, based in Mumbai, India. He can be reached at email@example.com.